Using Foreign Courts to Attack U.S. Companies; Dole Still Wins

By October 21, 2009Briefly Legal, Trade

From Bloomberg, “Dole Doesn’t Have to Pay Nicaraguan Verdict, U.S. Judge Rules“:

Oct. 21 (Bloomberg) — Dole Food Inc., the world’s biggest fresh fruit and vegetables producer, can’t be forced in the U.S. to pay a $97 million verdict issued by a Nicaraguan court, a federal judge said.

The award, won four years ago by 150 Nicaraguans who claimed they suffered injuries from pesticides used at Dole’s banana plantations in the 1970s, can’t be enforced because it was based on a law that violates international legal standards, U.S. District Judge Paul Huck in Miami said in a ruling yesterday.

“The law under which this case was tried stripped defendants of their basic right in any adversarial proceeding to produce evidence in their favor and rebut the plaintiffs’ claims,” Huck said.

A major ruling, with obvious implications for the lawsuit against Chevron in Ecuador, where the rule of law has deteriorated under leftist President Rafael Correa amid compelling evidence of judicial corruption.

UPDATE (11:52 a.m.): And here’s a good piece at The Wall Street Journal’s Law Blog, with many links, “Dole on a Roll: Court Declines to Enforce $97M Judgment“:

Nicaraguan courts since 2002 have issued judgments in 32 such suits for a total of $2.05 billion against Dole and pesticide makers, Dole said. The company said that if the plaintiffs had won in Miami, their lawyers would try in U.S. courts to collect the other judgments that the companies have refused to pay.

“This is a powerful ruling,” said Ted Boutros, a lawyer for Dole. “It will be a major deterrent to bringing other verdicts to the U.S.”

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