A U.S. appeals court has ruled in favor of Chiquita Brands International in a long-running legal dispute over their relationship to South American guerrillas. The famous banana company was sued by about 4,000 Colombian residents who claimed Chiquita funded a paramilitary group which was responsible for the deaths of their family members. By associating with the United Self-Defense Committees of Colombia (AUC) the residents believed Chiquita was ultimately responsible for these deaths.
Between 1997 and 2004, Chiquita paid $1.7 million to AUC, a fact they don't dispute. They were hit with a $25 million fine for this payment, although the company maintains they were extorted for the funds. Colombian residents, however, believe Chiquita paid a banana bribe to the paramilitary group so they could control Colombia's banana growing territories.
The 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals determined in a 2-1 vote that the lawsuit was "outside the jurisdiction of US courts."
Chiquita Brands International spokesperson Ed Lloyd said,
Chiquita has long maintained that these cases do not belong in US courts and that the claims should be dismissed. We are gratified that the US Court of Appeals has now agreed with us.
Chiquita has great sympathy for the Colombians who suffered at the hands of these Colombian armed groups, but the responsibility for the violent crimes committed in that country belongs to the perpetrators, not to the innocent people and companies they extorted."