A group of farm workers filed a lawsuit in 1993 against banana growers and chemical companies for illnesses they contracted while using a dangerous chemical. Now, 22 years later, after several court venues dismissed it on procedural grounds, the suit has been dismissed once again without the merits of the case being judged.
Dole and Chiquita used the pesticide dibromochloropropane (DBCP), manufactured by Dow Chemical and others, on their banana farms in Central and South America. The plaintiffs who had worked on those farms claimed in their suit that they were exposed to the chemical in the 1970s and ’1980s, but illnesses such as kidney problems, infertility and an increased risk of cancer did not appear until later. Their lawsuit also claimed that Dole has known about DBCP’s toxic properties since 1958.
The farm workers filed suit in 1993, but the procedure was held up while awaiting a ruling on whether it could go forward based on the statute of limitations. It was also filed in Louisiana and Delaware, with the plaintiffs trying to get a venue to hear the merits of the case. The suit was dismissed in Delaware because it had been before a Louisiana court, setting the stage for it to go before the Third Circuit Court of Appeals.
In a 2-1 decision, the appeals court upheld the Delaware court’s dismissal of the case. “They wanted to keep the same litigation going in two different federal fora simultaneously to see in which one they would fare better,”…