• Sweden's news in English

Fruit giant to dole out $200,000 over Bananas!* lawsuit

Vivian Tse · 29 Nov 2010, 16:46

Published: 29 Nov 2010 16:46 GMT+01:00

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Dole originally sued Swedish director, Fredrik Gertten, producer Margareta Jangard, and production company WG Film in July 2009 for defamation after the documentary Bananas!* premiered at the Los Angeles Film Festival.

"I'm very happy. It's a huge relief for us after having such a huge weight on our shoulders and cool that a judge has thrown out the case. It also shows people and other filmmakers that big companies cannot get away with suing them to try to silence them," Gertten told The Local on Monday.

The film chronicles the efforts of Los Angeles lawyer Juan Dominguez in representing Nicaraguan fruit workers who allege they became sterile after Dole sprayed them with a banned pesticide.

After the lawsuit was filed, the filmmakers won the support of several Swedish MPs, burger chain Max, which stopped selling Dole fruit salad, and grocers ICA and Axfood, which demanded to meet with the Swedish subsidiary of Dole.

In addition to the financial penalty, Dole is prevented from suing Gertten, Jangard and WG Film again in the future.

"They have contacted me a few times before to ask me to agree to some ridiculous terms, which I refused," said Gertten.

The ruling clears the way for companies and broadcasters to screen the film with no legal worries, Gertten said. Oscilloscope Laboratories, helmed by Beastie Boy Adam Yauch, holds the theatrical and distribution rights to the film in the US.

The original defamation lawsuit was thrown out in October 2009, after which Gertten replied with a strategic lawsuit against public participation (SLAPP) filed in Los Angeles.

These suits intend to censor, intimidate and silence critics by burdening them with the cost of a legal defense until they abandon their criticism or opposition.

California has a unique variant of anti-SLAPP legislation, making it a popular destination for such suits.

Gertten pointed out that he will not see a penny of the penalty. His lawyer, Lincoln Bandlow, has asked him for $250,000, but Gertten said that this is not the full costs. Gertten's insurance company will pay up to $300,000 in legal fees.

Story continues below…

In addition, Gertten, Jangard and the production company have invested a significant amount of their own time and finances into the lawsuit. However, Gertten pointed out that Dole has spent considerably more fighting him, Jangard and their production company.

"They've spent about $1 million on the case. Their PR company has called all the journalists who have interviewed us and translated all the articles from Swedish. They have also made their lawyers available for interviews in Swedish media," he said.

Dole's penalty will be paid directly to the insurance company, but it can still appeal the ruling. However, an appeal would only cover the financial penalty, not the ruling on future lawsuits.

"I would be much happier if they contacted me and said, 'Sorry, here's the money,' but that's not going to happen," said Gertten.

Vivian Tse (vivian.tse@thelocal.se)

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Your comments about this article

17:21 November 29, 2010 by boby
So, what do we have here? Another anti-american action by Sweden. Not surprising. I wonder what will Sweden look like with out the US (probably be a province in Soviet union now).
17:34 November 29, 2010 by Rick Methven

The film maker just used his legal right to stop the bully boy Dole from trying to cover up their extremely questionable business tactics.

This time they got lucky and found a judge that was not on the Dole payroll

As far as where Sweden would be without the US, Exactly where we are now but better off
17:43 November 29, 2010 by markusd

Seems to me that the only thing Swedish in this article is the director.
18:14 November 29, 2010 by mjennin2
Yea I'm going to have to agree, this is not anti-american. This is anti-inhumane business practice which isn't America-specific. These things happen all over the world. It's important that we shed light on them, so as to call into question not only the companies themselves, but also the inspectors and other regulatory bodies who are paid (usually by tax payer dollars) to ensure that things like this don't happen. They should all be morally audited.
18:38 November 29, 2010 by Jonsol69.blogspot.com
A clear demonstration of how corrupt the legal system is. Despite the win, it appears a deliberate loss and puts people off challenging the evil big corps. The ruling should have been all legal costs plus 250,000 minimum. This is small change to the big corps. The more often these organisations can continue without serious impeachment post unethical, immoral and dangerous conduct to life and environment; the greater the lobbies and payoffs will be and corruption from the top down.

Outstanding work, we need more documentaries of this nature that uncover the corporate owning unethical, immoral parasites and the rotten practices by government and courts

Here are a couple of ideas: Government approving food additives which are toxic (corporate lobbies buying government). A Swedish version of 'What On Earth Are They Spraying'. The chocolate industry. The electronics industry and the semi-precious African metals in destabilised Congo. Shell in Nigeria, BP deliberate safety cost cuts. The self-styled elite groups and their involvement in eugenics, education and population control. Investigations into the agendas of the CFR, Trilateral Commission, Royal Institute For International Affairs, Club of Rome, Bilderberg, Rockefeller, Rothschild and Bill Gates foundations, IMF, World Bank. Behind the WWF, WHO, UNESCO, UNICEF, Greenpeace movements, to name but a few. Oh I forgot to add Climate-gate.

Some of the information within their own documentation is the frightening stuff of horror films and reminds me of the quote by Lord Byron - "The truth is strange, stranger than fiction."
18:57 November 29, 2010 by StockholmSam
Boby, I think you should change your name to Booby. There is nothing anti-American in this piece. If anything, the fact that a little guy stood up to a corporate goliath's unethical behavior and won is a rather positive reflection on American freedoms. Chalk one up for the very American freedom to fight the power. Lots of places out there do not have that freedom.
19:37 November 29, 2010 by GefleFrequentFlyer
Business model for hippies everywhere: Phase 1: Create yellow journalism about large multinational corporation. Phase 2: Live your 15 min of fame being a media attention whore. Phase 3: Go legal and then settle with them. Phase 4: ????. Phase 5: Fictory and Profit!
19:51 November 29, 2010 by brooklynmom2
For those who side with Dole, would you like to get sprayed with the same sh t?
20:06 November 29, 2010 by boby
Why would someone go after Doil? There are a million places on earth where great atrocities are performed on a daily basis. Sweden is after America, that is a fact. The Swedish 'artists' will rather write about Doil or any other American corporation then criticize North Korea, Iran or Sudan etc.

Its because the Swedish is biased to the Islam and Communism. So today, North Korea is the beacon for the 'intellectual islamo-left fascists' in Sweden. They are like a dog that bites the hand that feeds it, without US, that safe guarded their freedom for so many years they would not be able to write any of the garbage.
20:20 November 29, 2010 by Rishonim
This should be a lesson to all those antiamerican nutcase that only in the USA we can see such ruling. Imagine if the same documentaris was fighting the same case against a big Swedish conglomerate (Arla foods) I am more than sure the swedish legal system would have sided with the food giant.
20:27 November 29, 2010 by boby
@ Rishonim

You are so right. Sweden likes to think of itself as a great democracy, but in reality it is a totalitarian state. An islamo-fascist 'intellectual' gang controls the media and they have 'soldiers' that violently shuts any signs of free speech and thought. That is why in Sweden tyrants from North Korea and terrorists from Hamas are welcomed with open arms but freedom fighters from US and Israel are attacked.
22:16 November 29, 2010 by reason
Arla doesn't grow bananas Rishonim, so the same case wouldn't be applicable. Let's instead pretend that Arla stole a patented process for a dairy product from a small innovation company. Surely the swedish legal system would side with the food giant rather than the tiny upstart... wait, this sounds familiar. Oh, yes, Arla lost that case just a few years ago. Was ordered to pay a record fine too. How quickly we forget :P

The evils of North Korea and Sudan are obvious and in the news every day. There's no risk that we'll forget them. The risk is rather that they drown out the smaller, insidious evils that surround us.

boby, you're an asshat.
23:20 November 29, 2010 by mkvgtired
I have read a lot surrounding this case. Much evidence has been admitted that shows many of the plaintiffs did not even work for Dole. Corrupt doctors faked test results and a corrupt Nicaraguan judge let it proceed. I am not saying that Dole's practices did or didnt hurt anyone, but with how many questions are surrounding this case it is unclear if Dole even did anything wrong. A sleazy LA lawyer is trying to line his pockets. This is not an Erin Brockovich story where a small time lawyer beat a large company that was actually hurting people. This is a story of a sleazy ambulance chaser that was a good liar and won a large settlement. Here is some info from the Huffington Post, arguably one of the most anti-business publications available.

20:23 December 3, 2010 by Textex
Comment removed by The Local for breach of our terms.
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