Fraud on Dole detailed

A Superior Court judge has laid out the false claims made against Dole by plaintiffs' attorneys as part of a case involving the company's treatment of Nicaraguan banana plantation workers. The judge, Victoria Chaney, has recommended that prosecutors and the State Bar investigate Juan Dominguez, the L.A. lawyer accused of engineering a scheme in which the evidence presented was essentially rigged. Dominguez's lawyer claims that the judge prejudged his client's guilt. From today's court ruling:

Plaintiffs claim that they have become sterile due to exposure to the pesticide DBCP while working on Dole-affiliated banana farms in Nicaragua from 1970 to 1980. However, contrary to their sworn testimony, most of the Plaintiffs never worked on Dole-affiliated banana farms and nonewere involved in the DBCP application processThese Plaintiffs, and their counsel, were part of a broader conspiracy that permeates all DBCP litigation arising from Nicaragua.

The case will take time to sort out: Dole is appealing an earlier jury award that was made before details of the alleged fraud had been revealed. It gets even messier because Chaney will likely leave her Superior Court bench - and relinquish her role in the Dole case - for a spot on the state Appellate Court. One more complication: "Bananas!", a documentary on the Dole case, is scheduled to make its premiere later this week at the Los Angeles Film Festival - even though it was made before the Dominguez allegations came to light. Swedish filmmaker Fredrik Gertten described the film as "a classical David-Goliath story," and while there's no way to know from the trailer how balanced the documentary might have been in the making, it's certainly quite out of date at this point. Amazingly, the L.A. Film Festival plans to go ahead with its Saturday screening. The following tap dance is offered on the festival's Web site:

Between the film's completion and its screening at this year's Festival, critical new elements of the case have come to light. What happens when a story continues to evolve after the shooting stops? This case study and screening will explore the relationship between documentary filmmaking, objective and subjective point of view, as well as the rights and responsibilities of activist filmmaking.

Oh, I get it. This is like a newspaper deciding to publish an investigative report even though evidence has been presented that seriously derails allegations from the main protagonist. Yeah, we know it's wrong, but we thought it would be good to show it to you anyway. Here's more backstory from the LAT.

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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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