Daily News Archive
Costa Rican Workers
Left Sterile by Pesticide Sue Dole, Shell, and Dow Chemical
Acting on behalf
of Costa Rican banana plantation workers, the lawyers are asking for
damages for what they describe as "wanton and reckless acts
and outrageous and malicious conduct." The suit also accuses the
produce companies of continuing "to oversee the application"
of DBCP on their banana farms. Additionally, the lawyers accused the
companies of conducting a "settlement campaign" in which workers
exposed to the pesticide were induced to sign releases freeing the companies
In 2001, Nicaraguan courts ordered Shell, Dole, and Dow to pay 489 million dollars to 500 male banana workers made sterile by DBCP. But the companies refused to pay and, led by Dole, they counter-sued the claimants for fraud and asked for 17 billion dollars in damages. When workers pursued enforcement of the 2001 Nicaraguan court judgment this year, the U.S. Federal Court refused to take the case, said Kathy Hoyt, co-coordinator of the Nicaragua Network, a U.S.-based non-governmental organization.
For the most part, U.S. judges have argued that their courts are not the appropriate arenas for trying these cases, and only four percent of the rejected cases are re-filed in other countries. Under the civil codes of most Latin American countries, plaintiffs' rights are weaker, there are fewer jury trials and they lack strong discovery rules, Ms. Hoyt said. Some of the cases rejected in the United States were heard in other countries, but there the accused corporations wield strong influence or no longer hold sizable assets.
TAKE ACTION: Boycott Dole, Chiquita, and Fresh Del Monte bananas until these corporations discontinue the use of DBCP and compensate those workers who were poisoned. Now is the time to take action against Dow Chemical Company as well--this lawsuit is only one of many examples in which Dow repeatedly abuses its corporate power at the expense of workers' health. This Friday, December 3, is the 20th anniversary of the Bhopal disaster and a Global Day of Action against Dow's corporate crimes. Go to www.bhopal.net to learn about the growing student movement against Dow and how you can get involved.