By JAMES QUEALLY
Federal court tosses suit against Chiquita for alleged involvement in Colombian war crimes
A federal appeals court in Florida has thrown out a lawsuit filed against produce giant Chiquita Brands International, ruling that U.S. courts have no jurisdiction over claims that the company allegedly financed a military group that engaged in torture and other acts during Colombia's civil war.
The ruling, published Thursday, cited a 2013 Supreme Court case addressing a similar matter in Nigeria.
"We determine that the complaints do not state claims within the jurisdiction of the United States courts, and we reverse the denials of motions to dismiss," the ruling says.
The suit was brought by 4,000 Colombians who contend Chiquita paid $1.7 million to the United Self-Defense Forces of Colombia in 1997, a guerilla paramilitary organization accused of committing war crimes and killing thousands of Colombians during the conflict.
The group was designated a terrorist organization by the U.S. in 2001, and the company pleaded guilty in 2007 to U.S. criminal charges stemming from the payments and paid a $25-million fine.
In previous rulings, courts had held that the plaintiffs could sue, saying there were further "questions of law" to be addressed before dismissal.