September 13, 2022
Families suing banana grower Chiquita Brands International for its alleged role in funding paramilitary death squads in Colombia will be able to proceed with their case after the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit in Atlanta last week unanimously reversed a Florida district court summary judgment and reinstated the historic claims.
U.S. District Judge Kenneth Marra of the Southern District of Florida in West Palm Beach had denied class status and dismissed a handful of individual plaintiffs’ cases in 2019.
“As to the merits, we hold that most of the bellwether plaintiffs presented sufficient evidence to withstand summary judgment with respect to whether the AUC was responsible for the deaths of their decedents,” wrote Eleventh Circuit Judge Adalberto Jordan, referring to the United Self-Defenses of Colombia (Autodefensas Unidas de Colombia).
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EarthRights’ co-counsel includes Paul L. Hoffman of Schonbrun Seplow Harris Hoffman & Zeldes, who argued the appeal; Cohen Milstein Sellers & Toll; and attorneys Judith Brown Chomsky, Anthony DiCaprio and Arturo Carrillo.
Agnieszka Fryszman, plaintiffs’ counsel at Cohen Milstein, said in a statement: “This is a very important case for corporate accountability. Chiquita has already admitted it paid over a million dollars to the AUC, a paramilitary group designated as a foreign terrorist organization by the United States.”
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