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Nicaraguans Could Lose $2.3 Million Court Award

May 12, 2010
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According to the Associated Press, six Nicaraguan banana workers who Dole Food Co. attorneys have accused of fraud will get a chance to explain their position when their attorneys speak before a California judge at a hearing. The men, who claimed in the lawsuit that exposure to pesticides made them sterile, received $2.3 million after a 2007 jury verdict. But the judge in the case is considering reversing the award. Attorneys for Dole suggested that the men were part of a "fraud army" coached in their testimony by an American and Nicaraguan lawyer with a plan to extort billions from the giant food company in multiple lawsuits. Judge Victoria Chaney, who has been elevated to the state appellate court since she presided over the 2007 trial, has returned to Los Angeles Superior Court to consider dismissing the verdict. The case is closely related to one that Chaney dismissed last summer on grounds of fraud. Chaney cited an "outrageous and profound" conspiracy to extort Dole with false claims by purported plantation workers who said they had been rendered sterile by exposure to the pesticide DBCP in the 1970s. Testimony showed the men were not plantation workers and were recruited by Los Angeles attorney Juan J. Dominguez and a Nicaraguan associate to lie. She said they planned to extort billions of dollars from Dole in multiple lawsuits across the country. The alleged fraud was not uncovered until after the case of Tellez vs. Dole was concluded and a jury awarded the men $2.3 million.
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