A jury in Los Angeles says Dole Food Co. Inc. must pay six Nicaraguan farm workers $3.2 million dollars for injuries they say they sustained on the job over 30 years ago.
The six men say they became sterile because Dole used a banned pesticide at the plantations where they were employed. The injuries occurred in Central America.
The jury is back in court to determine whether Dole and Dow Chemical Co, a codefendant in the lawsuit, should be asked to pay punitive damages to punish them for wrongful actions.
The LA jury determined that DBCP was defective and its benefits-increases banana harvests up to 20%–were outweighed by the risks.
So far, courts in Nicaragua have returned over $600 million in judgments against Dole and other companies but none of the money can so far be collected. The jury determined that Dole intentionally did not tell workers of the risks associated with the chemical. Dow must pay 20-40% of the awards owed to each worker. Dole claims that it did not hide the risks from workers.
Dow, the co-defendant in the case, claims that DBCP is not defective if used properly.
Four more personal injury lawsuits involving thousands of workers from Honduras, Costa Rica, Panama, and Guatemala are pending. The workers say that they too were injured because Dole used DBCP at their plantations.
Internationally, tens of thousands of workers have filed lawsuits over the use of the chemical.
DBCP is banned almost everywhere in the world. The chemical is used to fight pests that attack fruit tree roots. The chemical also is known to make rabbits-and, allegedly, human beings sterile.
The Environmental Protection Agency says DBCP can cause cancer and liver and kidney damage especially if a person is exposed to high levels for an extended time period.
Companies in the United States stopped using DBCP after workers at a Lathrop, California plant appeared to become sterile after working with the chemical. The workers injured at the Lathrop plant sued the company they were working for and won. DBCP was pulled off shelves in 1979.
If you or someone you love has sustained serious injury or harm because of a defective or dangerous product, you may be able to file a products liability lawsuit against the party responsible for your injuries.
Jury considers punitive damages against Dole, Los Angeles Times, November 6, 2007
Dole must pay farmworkers $3.2 million, Los Angeles Times, November 6, 2007
Pesticide’s Victims Will Finally Come Before a U.S. Court, Council on Hemispheric Affairs
Related Web Resources:
Dole Food Company, Inc. Pleased by Jury Verdicts against Half of Plaintiffs in DBCP Cases, Dole, Business Wire, November 5, 2007