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3 Sep 2022

Anne Bucher, Top Class Actions

USA: Florida federal Judge dismisses several claims alleging Chiquita funded a paramilitary group in Colombia

"Chiquita escapes some claims in lawsuit over war crimes, terrorism, human rights violations", 29 Aug 2022

A Florida federal judge dismissed several class action lawsuit claims in multidistrict litigation (MDL) alleging Chiquita Brands International paid $1.7 million to a paramilitary group in Colombia that killed and tortured the plaintiffs’ relatives.

Chiquita sought dismissal claims for extrajudicial killing, human rights violations, terrorism, torture and war crimes.

On Aug. 23, U.S. District Judge Kenneth A. Marra dismissed those claims from the Chiquita lawsuit, finding that the Colombian plaintiffs’ lawsuit was similar to a 2021 U.S. Supreme Court case in which the court rejected Alien Tort Statute jurisdiction in a case involving allegations Nestle aided and abetted child slavery...

The judge found Chiquita Brands International’s “payments approved in the United States were not made specifically to fund terror attacks on innocent civilians, although Chiquita executives allegedly knew or should have known that the money paid to the AUC [Autodefensas Unidas de Colombia] would incidentally fuel such attacks,” according to the judge’s order.

“As in Nestle, this is insufficient to establish a connection between the U.S. based decision making – intended to purchase protection against guerilla attacks on foreign infrastructure – and the tortious conduct of the AUC abroad,” Judge Marra says in the Chiquita lawsuit order.

Judge Marra determined that the plaintiffs’ claims under the Alien Tort Statute were impermissibly extraterritorial and dismissed them with prejudice.

She dismissed the plaintiffs’ allegations of violations of the Torture Victim Protection Act but will give them a final opportunity to amend this claim.

Nineteen Chiquita lawsuits are reportedly pending in the MDL...