Dole: We've changed

Really, really changed. What had been a nasty 'ol fruit and vegetable business that couldn't give a darn about its Nicaraguan banana pickers is today a caring, considerate company. General Counsel C. Michael Carter told jurors today that Dole would never put profits ahead of safety - as it did in 1977 when it ignored evidence that a pesticide could leave its banana workers unable to have children. How nice. But wait a minute - Didn't an L.A. Superior Court jury award more than $3 million to Nicaraguans last week who claimed they were left sterile by the pesticide. Didn't Dole vow to appeal the verdict, calling it "unjust" and based on "fraudulent claims"? Weren't Carter's claims made during the punitive phase of the trial, when the company faces many more millions in damages? From the LAT:

Carter said it is "flat certain" that Dole has cleaned up its act. He pointed out that only one of 60 top executives employed by the firm in 1977 still works for Dole today. He cited a new corporate code of conduct designed to "empower" employees that has been distributed to workers worldwide in 11 different languages. In it, the company pledged never to use pesticides banned in the United States or Europe, and stated that worker safety and environmental concerns are top objectives. The code referred to "crop protection products" that Carter, when questioned, said, "means pesticides."

Just to clarify, California businesses may not insure against punitive damages. There’s a bunch of money riding on Dole suddenly becoming the good guys.

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Mark Lacter
Mark Lacter created the LA Biz Observed blog in 2006. He posted until the day before his death on Nov. 13, 2013.
Mark Lacter, business writer and editor was 59
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