A federal judge in Florida has denied Chiquita's request that lawsuits filed against it by the families of victims of Colombian paramilitaries be dismissed.
Chiquita has admitted paying US$1.7m to a right-wing paramilitary group, AUC, over a seven-year period, but says it was a victim of extortion and has no responsibility for the AUC's violent crimes.
The lawsuits allege Chiquita knew its money would be used to fund attacks on civilians and district judge Kenneth Marra has permitted the families of victims to pursue claims involving torture, war crimes and crimes against humanity.
The judge granted Chiquita's motion to dismiss claims for damages related to terrorism.
Ed Loyd, a spokesman for Chiquita, said: "The court's ruling makes it clear that for these claims to succeed, plaintiffs will have to prove that Chiquita shared the murderous aims of the AUC. The plaintiffs will never be able to prove this, because it is not true. These were extortion payments made to protect the lives of Chiquita's employees."