On February 15, 2019, Cohen Milstein and co-counsel filed a motion for summary judgment motion. Defendants also filed a motion for summary judgement on the same day.
Cohen Milstein represents family members of the trade unionists, banana workers, political organizers, activists and others killed by the Autodefensas Unidas de Colombia (AUC). Plaintiffs allege that the deaths of their relatives were a direct and foreseeable, result of Chiquita’s financial support of the AUC, which has been designated by the United States as a foreign terrorist organization. The case is proceeding under Colombian law against Chiquita and under the U.S. Torture Victim Protect Act against individual Chiquita executives and board members.
In March 2007, Defendant Chiquita Brands International pled guilty to criminal charges to knowingly providing material support to the AUC, a paramilitary organization widely known for its violent attacks on Colombian civilians and designated a “Foreign Terrorist Organization” by the United States government. The United States described Chiquita’s support to the AUC as “prolonged, steady, and substantial” in the August 2008 Sentencing Memorandum submitted to the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia and found, after a full investigation, that “Chiquita’s money helped buy weapons and ammunition used to kill innocent victims.”
Plaintiffs allege that for seven years, Chiquita provided not only financial assistance to the AUC, totaling more than $1.7 million in regular monthly payments (accounted for as "security services"), but also shipments of arms and ammunition with the knowledge, from the day the first payment was made, that the AUC was a violent organization responsible for extrajudicial killings, torture, forced disappearances, war crimes, and other human rights violations.
With Chiquita's support, during this time, the AUC and predecessor paramilitary groups expanded from about 1,000 to more than 30,000 fighters. Based on official sources in Colombia, "paramilitaries were responsible for killing or disappearing more than 100,000 civilians during this time period and committed more than 10,000 acts of torture," court records said.
On June 3, 2011, Judge Kenneth A. Marra of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida ruled that Plaintiffs’ civil claims against Chiquita in In Re: Chiquita Brands International, No. 08-01916 for torture, extrajudicial killing, war crimes, and crimes against humanity, may continue in U.S. federal court.
The case, Doe v. Chiquita Brands International, No. 08-01916 (S.D. Fla.), was originally filed in New Jersey, and was subsequently coordinated with other similar cases as In re Chiquita Brands International Inc. Alien Tort Statute and Shareholder Derivative Litigation in West Palm Beach, Florida.