Years of tenacity by a group of Nicaraguan banana field workers made sterile by their handling of pesticides on Dole's plantations has been undone by a single judge in Los Angeles.
In November, a jury awarded four workers $3.3 million, and held both Dole and Dow Chemical liable for the effects of DBCP, a now-banned pesticide. Another 6,000 workers are in line, having sued for similar injuries.
Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Victoria G. Chaney single-handedly cut the award in half, according to the Los Angeles Times. (The L.A. Times mentioned only Dole in today's report, and it is unclear how the decision affects Dow Chemical, the maker of the pesticide.)
Her reason? Dole only used the chemical (or, more accurately, had poor farm hands use it) and did not market it, so it can't be held liable for the injury it did to people, particularly since those people were harmed decades ago, and outside of the United States to boot.
No matter that the pesticide was used to make bigger bananas, which were consumed in the United States, or that the so-called Banana Republics have a long history of being propped up with industry money by the U.S. military. No matter that world trade is globalized, so U.S. companies could presumably escape responsibility in U.S. courts for ills done in outsourcing labor to remote parts of the world.
The decision has the whiff of corporate technicalities, not real justice.
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