Dole sues "Bananas" documentary maker

Wed Jul 8, 2009 7:05pm EDT
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By Gina Keating

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Dole Food Company Inc filed a defamation lawsuit on Wednesday against Swedish film makers it accuses of knowingly including "patent falsehoods" in a documentary about Nicaraguan banana workers who sued Dole for allegedly exposing them to pesticides on its plantations.

Dole said it repeatedly "implored" director Fredrik Gertten and producer Margarete Jangard to revise the film "Bananas!*" to show that the bananeros' lawsuits against Dole were thrown out in April by a Los Angeles judge who found a "pervasive conspiracy" to defraud U.S. courts by plaintiffs attorneys and Nicaraguan judges.

Gertten "refused to make any meaningful changes to the film, and persisted in publicly screening it and touting its accuracy in the face of court rulings that the story was false ...," said the suit, filed in Los Angeles Superior Court.

"To screen, promote, and profit from this film, despite the fact that its entire premise has been (judged) a fraud on Dole and California's courts, is the epitome of reckless and irresponsible conduct."

Attorney Richard Lee, who represents defendant WG Film AB, said he and his client found the complaint "to be without merit" and an attempt at prior restraint

"Dole is attempting to keep a part of the long story of misuse of pesticides by multinational corporations from being told," Lee said. "We will respond appropriately in court."

Gertten could not immediately be reached for comment.

In a July 1 letter posted on a website promoting the film, Gertten described Dole's demands as "blatant intimidation" and said the company "attacked the film without seeing it."   Continued...

<p>A woman prepares food as she takes part in a protest by former banana plantation workers in front of the National Parliament in Managua February 27, 2008. REUTERS/Oswaldo Rivas</p>