Press Releases

Jury Verdict Reached: Chiquita Liable for Murders of Colombian Terror Victims – Must Pay $38.3 Million

Cohen Milstein

June 10, 2024

Six-week jury trial is the first of a series of bellwether trials in 16-year wrongful death lawsuit.

In 2007, Chiquita pled guilty to a federal crime arising out of its payments to the terror group responsible for the murders.

WEST PALM BEACH, FL – Today, a South Florida jury found Chiquita Brands International responsible for the wrongful deaths of eight men who were murdered by Autodefensas Unidas de Colombia (AUC) and awarded the surviving family members $38.3 million in damages for the deaths of eight of victims.

The eight plaintiffs in this case are the surviving family members of the victims, who include husbands and sons targeted and killed by the AUC, a brutal paramilitary known for mass killing and designated by the United States as a Foreign Terrorist Organization. That designation made supporting the AUC a federal crime. The plaintiffs alleged that Chiquita paid the AUC nearly $2 million, while facilitating shipments of arms, ammunition and drugs, despite knowing that the AUC was an illegal organization engaged in a reign of terror.  

“Our clients risked their lives to come forward to hold Chiquita to account, putting their faith in the United States justice system.  I am very grateful to the jury for the time and care they took to evaluate the evidence,” said Agnieszka Fryszman, chair of Cohen Milstein’s Human Rights practice and one of the attorneys leading the case. “The verdict does not bring back the husbands and sons who were killed, but it sets the record straight and places accountability for funding terrorism where it belongs: at Chiquita’s doorstep.”

After a long seventeen years against a well-funded defense, justice was finally served,” added Leslie Kroeger, a partner at Cohen Milstein and a member of the Plaintiffs’ trial team. “We look forward to the next round of bellwether trials and will continue to fight for our clients.”

The civil claims were brought on the heels of a 2007 Chiquita guilty plea to criminal charges brought by the United States. The Department of Justice described Chiquita’s support to the AUC as “prolonged, steady, and substantial.”

The claims were consolidated by the multidistrict litigation (MDL) panel and heard by a federal court in Florida. A group of plaintiffs, referred to as “bellwether” plaintiffs, was selected to proceed to trial. This jury verdict concludes the first six-week bellwether jury trial, which began on April 22, 2024. The second bellwether trial is scheduled for July 15, 2024.

The plaintiffs in John Doe I v. Chiquita Brands International are represented by Agnieszka Fryszman and Leslie M. Kroeger of Cohen Milstein Sellers & Toll PLLC; Marco Simons, Rick Herz, Maryum Jordan, Marissa Vahlsing, Wyatt Gjullin, and Gabriela Paola Valentin Dias of EarthRights International; and Paul Hoffman of Schonbrun Seplow Harris Hoffman & Zeldes. 

About Cohen Milstein Sellers & Toll, PLLC

Cohen Milstein Sellers & Toll PLLC, a premier U.S. plaintiffs’ law firm, with over 100 attorneys across eight offices, champions the causes of real people—workers, consumers, small business owners, investors, and whistleblowers—working to deliver corporate reforms and fair markets for the common good. For more information, visit

About EarthRights International

EarthRights International is a non-governmental, non-profit organization that combines the power of law and the power of people in defense of human rights and the environment, which we define as “earth rights.” For more information, visit

About Schonbrun Seplow Harris Hoffman & Zeldes

Schonbrun Seplow Harris Hoffman & Zeldes is a public interest law firm that has had the honor of handling numerous landmark civil and human rights cases to hold corporations and government entities accountable for wrong-doing. For more information, visit