Dole Food Company has filed a defamation lawsuit against film director Fredrik Gertten and producer Margarete Jangard over a controversial documentary tracking a case against the US multinational, during which Nicaraguan banana workers sued the company for allegedly exposing them to pesticides on plantations.
The company has said that the film 'Bananas!' included "patent falsehoods", and that it was shown despite repeated requests to revise the piece to include the fact that the lawsuits featured were dismissed by a Los Angeles judge after the uncovering of a conspiracy to defraud US courts by plaintiffs' attorneys and Nicaraguan judges.
According to local media reports, the Dole lawsuit claimed that Mr Gertten refused to make meaningful changes to the documentary despite the company's pleas, and that the film makers' actions had been "reckless and irresponsible" in broadcasting the documentary as accurate despite the fact that its premise had been judged as fraudulent.
Mr Gertten had stated that Dole's initial attempts to have the film altered or stopped had been "blatant intimidation", and said that the company had attacked the film – which was premiered at the Los Angeles Film Festival in June – without seeing it first.
The documentary follows US plaintiffs' attorney Juan Dominguez as he represents 12 banana workers in the lawsuit against Dole, claiming that pesticides used by the company at Nicaraguan plantations in the 1970s had made them sterile.
The end of the film shows a US court awarding five of the workers US$2.5m in punitive damages. However, this was followed by Los Angeles superior court judge Victoria Chaney throwing out the award after finding evidence that some of the plaintiff's proof of employment had been forged, ruling that the lawsuit was part of a large-scale operation to defraud US courts – something that Dole insisted should be in the final cut.