For years, the families of Colombians who were injured or killed by right-wing paramilitary death squads have sought accountability from banana producer Chiquita, which has admitted to paying off many of these militias.
Now, Florida-based U.S. District Judge Kenneth A. Marra — a George W. Bush appointee — has ruled that lawsuits by these families will be allowed to move forward, rejecting the banana company’s request that the suits be thrown out:
A federal judge in Florida said Friday that lawsuits against Chiquita Brands International, filed by family members of thousands of Colombians who were tortured or killed by paramilitaries, will be allowed to go forward. [...]
Chiquita, which has admitted to making payments to paramilitaries, had asked for the suits to be dismissed, arguing it was a victim of extortion and has no responsibility for any crimes armed groups committed. But U.S. District Judge Kenneth A. Marra denied the company’s request, allowing plaintiffs to move forward with claims for damages against the company for torture, war crimes and crimes against humanity. He granted Chiquita’s motion to dismiss claims for damages related to terrorism.
Chiquita previously faced a $25 million fine from the U.S. after being found to be delivering payments to the Colombian United Self-Defence Forces, a group designated as a terrorist organization by the State Department.