Mass Casualty Litigation: Chiquita banana sued for helping Colombian terrorists

Legal News for Attorneys Handling Mass Casualty Cases. Victims of Colombian terrorist-related violence have sued the Chiquita banana company for supporting paramilitaries.

Mass casualty lawyer alert- Chiquita Brands International faces lawsuit in connection to their payments to Colombian paramilitaries, who committed kidnappings and murders.

West Palm Beach, FL—More than 240 people are being represented in a lawsuit against Chiquita Brands International Inc., in which the plaintiffs contended the well known banana producer and distributor facilitated paramilitary militias in the South American country of Colombia. According to the lawsuit, filed on Wednesday, April 14, 2010, the company provided Marxist rebels with resources, allegedly enabling the murders and kidnappings of hundreds of Colombian victims. The plaintiffs are seeking an excess of $1 billion for injuries and damages, as well as undetermined punitive damages, according to information provided by Reuters.

The lawsuit is one of at least seven to be filed since Chiquita Brands International plead guilty to providing monetary assistance to Colombian terrorist organizations in March 2007. The company alleged they paid the United Self-Defense Forces of Colombia (AUC) as a means of protecting employees working in the Andean country’s northern banana region, an epicenter for terrorist-related kidnappings and killings. The U.S. Justice Department fined the Chiquita banana company $25 million for providing Colombian paramilitaries with $1.7 million between 1997 and 2004.

According to the attorney representing the 242 plaintiffs, “This lawsuit, and others like it, will hold Chiquita — which had revenues in excess of $3.5 billion last year — accountable to those victimized by its unlawful conduct… Chiquita has already admitted to engaging in criminal conduct that violated federal law by making systematic financial payments to a foreign terrorist organization… Yet it has refused to provide compensation to the victims of terrorist atrocities made possible by its regular, repeated and knowing financial support.”

While some plaintiffs alleged AUC terrorists killed their family members, others claimed paramilitary mercenaries caused them to suffer serious physical harm. While Chiquita did not comment on pending litigation, the case is expected to be underway.

Legal News Reporter: Sandra Quinlan- Legal News for Layers Handling Mass Casualty Cases.