Chavez v. Dole Food Co., Inc

More than 200 foreign agricultural workers allege they were exposed to the pesticide DBCP on banana farms throughout Central America, in the 1960s through the 1980s, resulting in health problems. Litigation began in 1993 with a putative class against Dole and related companies in Texas state court. Numerous suits were filed (and consolidated) in 2011 in the Eastern District of Louisiana against Dole and others. That court granted Dole summary judgment based on the statute of limitations; the Fifth Circuit affirmed. Meanwhile, in 2012, several actions were filed in the District of Delaware against the same defendants and alleging the same causes of action. That court dismissed, applying the first-filed rule, reasoning that “one fair bite at the apple is sufficient.” The Third Circuit initially affirmed, but on rehearing, en banc, held that the district court abused its discretion under the first-filed rule by dismissing the claims with prejudice and erred by refusing to transfer claims against Chiquita to another forum. The timeliness dismissals entered by the Louisiana District Court did not create a res judicata bar to the Delaware suits. The court stated that it was “untenable” that 20 years after the litigation began, no court had considered the merits. View "Chavez v. Dole Food Co., Inc" on Justia Law