DOLE FOOD COMPANY, INC. REJECTS FALSE REPORT OF ENFORCEMENT CLAIM IN VENEZUELA
WESTLAKE VILLAGE, California - June 03, 2009
Dole Food Company, Inc. today rejected an inaccurate report of a Nicaragua judgment enforcement decision in Venezuela.
A May 29, 2009, story in Nicaragua's La Prensa newspaper inaccurately reported that on May 4, the Supreme Court of Venezuela ordered Venezuelan subsidiaries of Shell Chemical Company, Dole Food Company, Inc. and Dow Chemical Company to pay compensation to 98 former banana farm workers in Nicaragua. No such ruling took place.
"This story is completely false. There has been no such ruling in Venezuela, or anywhere else outside of Nicaragua," said C. Michael Carter, Dole's Executive Vice President and General Counsel. "Judge Chaney's oral ruling in the Mejia and Rivera cases cited the 'systematic fabrication' of evidence from Nicaraguan plaintiffs, including 'fraudulent documents' and 'spurious lab reports.' Further, she found that these fabricated claims were the byproduct of lawyers and corrupt Nicaraguan judges conspiring to perpetrate 'a blatant extortion' of Dole and the other defendants." Mr. Carter added, "that the Nicaragua judgments are part of this extortion."
In her ruling on April 23, 2009, Los Angeles Superior Court Victoria Chaney stated, "this court questions the authenticity and reliability of any documentary evidence presented by plaintiffs that comes out of Nicaragua. & I can't believe in government documents, I can't believe in these work certificates, I can't believe the laboratory reports, I can't believe medical reports. What is there for me to believe? Nothing. I have serious, serious doubts about the bone fides of any plaintiff claiming to have been injured as a result of exposure to DBCP while working on banana plantations."
Judge Chaney dismissed with prejudice the Mejia and Rivera lawsuits in response to clear and convincing evidence that the plaintiffs, and certain of their attorneys, fabricated their claims, engaged in a long-running conspiracy to commit a fraud on the court, used threats of violence to frighten witnesses and suppress the truth, and conspired with corrupt Nicaraguan judges, depriving Dole and the other companies of due process.