Boeis Schiller Enters the Fray Against Chiquita – Joinder of Criminal Law and Tort Law Issues
This AmLaw article by Alison Frankel details Boeis Schiller & Flexner joining the fray in tort claims arising from Chiquit’as admitted payments to a terrorist group. The article includes a link to the undelrying complaint. It alleges a series of illegal payments, Chiquita’s guilty plea, and claims that the payments resulted in deaths and injuries to clients. Set out below are the key introductory allegations from the complaint:
1. For a period of more than six years, Defendant Chiquita Brands International, Inc. (“Chiquita”) knowingly and intentionally made over one hundred payments totaling more than $1.7 million to the United Self-Defense Groups of Colombia (Autodefensorias Unidas de Colombia or “AUC”), a violent terrorist organization. Chiquita’s payments were used by the AUC to finance a widespread and systematic campaign of massacres, extra-judicial killings, torture, murders, forced disappearances, forced displacements, and other violent acts against civilians in the regions of Colombia where Plaintiffs or their deceased family members lived and worked.
2. In 2001, the United States government designated the AUC as both a Foreign Terrorist Organization and a Specifically-Designated Global Terrorist. Consequently, it is a crime for any person or entity to provide material support or engage in unauthorized transactions with the AUC. By making payments to the AUC, Chiquita regularly, repeatedly and knowingly Case 0:10-cv-60573-XXXX Document 1 Entered on FLSD Docket 04/14/2010 engaged in criminal conduct that violated federal law and provided practical assistance and material support to a terrorist organization.
3. In 2007, the United States Department of Justice (“DOJ”) charged Chiquita with Engaging in Transactions with a Specially-Designated Global Terrorist, in violation of 50 U.S.C. § 1705(b) and 31 C.F.R 594.204. After being charged, Chiquita admitted that its payments to the AUC were unlawful and pled guilty to the offense. In conformity with its plea agreement, Chiquita was convicted of a felony, agreed to a criminal fine of $25 million, and was placed on corporate probation for a period of five years.
4. The Plaintiffs are family members of individuals who were killed by the AUC or are individuals who were themselves seriously injured by the AUC as a result of Chiquita’s support for the AUC and its operations. The Plaintiffs now seek compensatory and punitive damages arising from Chiquita’s unlawful financing of terrorism and its violations of international law under the Alien Tort Claims Act, 28 U.S.C. § 1350, the Torture Victims Protection Act, 28 U.S.C. § 1350 note, and Ohio law.