In the News

Chiquita Human Rights Suit Set For Trial in Florida Federal Court

Daily Business Review

March 20, 2023

U.S. District Judge Kenneth Marra of the Southern District of Florida ordered the banana company to stand trial in January 2024 for allegedly financing paramilitary death squads in Colombia.

Seventeen families suing U.S.-based banana grower Chiquita Brands International for its alleged role in funding paramilitary death squads in Colombia will get their day in court next January.

. . .

Chiquita pleaded guilty in 2007 to financing a designated global terrorist group in a U.S. criminal case, and agreed to pay a $25 million fine.

Subsequently, thousands of victims represented by various groups of lawyers filed suit against Chiquita in federal courts across the U.S. Those suits were consolidated and are being heard in federal district court for the Southern District of Florida in West Palm Beach.

The case is proceeding with a handful of bellwether cases that are to be tried first.

. . .

“Our clients have been waiting decades for justice, so we are gratified that the court has set a trial date and look forward to presenting our evidence to a jury,” said Agnieszka Fryszman, chair of the Human Rights Practice Group at Cohen Milstein Sellers & Toll, who also represents plaintiffs in the bellwether cases.

“Our clients allege that the deaths and injuries at the heart of this case were a direct and foreseeable result of Chiquita’s financial support of the AUC—a paramilitary group designated by the United States as a foreign terrorist organization—payments that should never have been made,” Fryszman said.

In addition to EarthRights and Cohen Milstein, counsel for the plaintiffs include Paul L. Hoffman of Schonbrun Seplow Harris Hoffman & Zeldes and Judith Brown Chomsky, Anthony DiCaprio and Arturo Carrillo.

Read the article on DBR (subscription required).