Monday, April 27, 2009

The Law of the Banana

Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Victoria Chaney dismissed two tort cases against Dow Chemical and Dole as fraudulent.  The suits alleged that chemicals manufactured by the defendants and used on banana plantations caused sterility. reports of the lawyers' misconduct (see the full article here) - the Edelman referenced below is the defendants' attorney:

They offered a $20,000 bounty in Nicaragua for information about witnesses, Edelman said, and saw to it that Dole investigators were subject to intimidation by police and other officials. The court testimony that led to Chaney's ruling detailed how a group of Nicaraguan lawyers, in apparent collusion with local officials, judges and lab technicians, rounded up 10,000 men whom they coached to claim sterility -- and to blame that sterility on Dole's chemicals. In fact, many of the men had never worked for Dole, and many weren't sterile. Some even had multiple children. "There [are] massive amounts of evidence demonstrating the recruiting and training of fraudulent plaintiffs to bring cases in both the Nicaraguan and U.S. courts," Chaney wrote.

The transcript of the hearing in which the judg excoriated the plaintiffs' lawyers can be found at this link.  She will hold a contempt hearing and potentially refer the lawyers to the bar disciplinary committee.

(H/T Legal Ethics Forum - Roy Simon gives this the cute title "Banana Lawyer Slips, Tort Cases Fall")


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