Case Name: JANE/JOHN DOES 1-144 v. CHIQUITA BRANDS INTERNATIONAL, INC, and DAVID DOES 1- 10
Plaintiffs: Jane/John Does 1-144 represent the families of 173 individuals murdered in the banana growing regions of Colombia.
Summary: The case began with an investigation by the U.S. Department of Justice, which filed criminal charges in March of this year. Chiquita not only admitted the truth of the charges, but agreed to cooperate in the DOJ's ongoing investigation. Chiquita admitted that it had paid the AUC paramilitary network for what it called "protection" for its employees. In order to force workers to quit a union or their job, to stop pressing legitimate grievances, or to accept poor working conditions, the corporation routinely turned to the paramilitaries who acted by means of intimidation, threats, abductions, torture and murder for “protection.” . Although Chiquita got off with a slap on the wrist - a $25 million dollar fine and no jail time for executives – their admissions set the stage for a multi-billion dollar lawsuit. It could be the biggest wrongful death case in U.S. history, eventually involving thousands of victims. On June 7, 2007, in Washington D.C., IRAdvocates filed suit against Chiquita on behalf of the families of 173 of the deceased.
On February 20, 2008 a transfer order was issued by the Panel on Multidistrict Litigation for six actions against Chiquita (which included IRAdvocates suit) to be consolidated and moved to the Southern District of Florida. It was determined by the Panel that this consolidation would serve the convenience of the parties and witnesses and promote the just and efficient conduct of the litigation. All of the actions transferred to Florida arise from allegations that Chiquita provided financial and other support to the Autodefensas Unidas de Colombia (AUC), a Colombian rightwing paramilitary organization engaged in an armed struggle against leftist guerilla groups in various parts of Colombia , including those where Chiquita had banana-producing operations. According to the Panel “Centralization under Section 1407 [would] eliminate duplicative discovery, prevent inconsistent pretrial rulings, and conserve the resources of the parties, their counsel and the judiciary.”
IRAdvocates filed the complaint on June 7, 2007. The complaint was served on July 2, 2007.
— Chris Saeger, "Strengthening Rule of Law Through Aid for Human Rights Litigation in National Courts: A Case Study of Oil Multinational Corporations Complicit in Human Rights Violations in Sudan and Nigeria (December 2007)
— Terry Collingsworth, "Using the Alien Tort Claims Act to Introduce the Rule of Law to the Global Economy (2005)