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Dole Claims Fraud In Nicaragua Banana Worker Suits

The allegations involve lawsuits over the pesticide DBCP, which was used in the 1970s and then banned over health issues.

A Los Angeles jury in November 2007 awarded $2.5 million in punitive damages to five workers, but the court later dismissed those damages, saying they could not be used to punish a domestic corporation for injuries that occurred only in a foreign country. The jury also awarded more than $3 million in actual damages, which were later reduced to $1.58 million.

The case marked the first time a U.S. jury heard a lawsuit involving sterility and DBCP. That lawsuit claimed Dole continued to use the pesticide, which is now banned worldwide, long after its dangers were known. The verdict is now on appeal.

In an opening statement, Edelman alleged a years-long conspiracy to defraud American companies and explained why some witnesses would be disguised and some court sessions would be closed.

"They fear the mob and what has become a political movement in Nicaragua. They are afraid of being lynched and having their tongues cut out and being killed," he said.

Dole lawyers and the judge said the company left Nicaragua in 1982 following the Sandinista revolution.

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