The Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals has affirmed a district court ruling finding that a $97 million judgment entered by a Nicaraguan court to compensate 150 Nicaraguan agricultural workers for injuries allegedly caused by workplace exposure to a pesticide is unenforceable under Florida law. Osorio v. Dow Chem. Co., No. 10-11143 (11th Cir., decided March 25, 2011).
The appellate court agreed that (i) “the Nicaraguan court lacked subject matter jurisdiction and/or personal jurisdiction over the defendants”; (ii) “the foreign judgment could not be recognized in Florida because the judgment was ‘rendered under a system which does not provide . . . procedures compatible with the requirements of due process of law’”; and (iii) “the Nicaraguan judgment could not be recognized under Florida law because doing so would be repugnant to Florida public policy.”
The court declined to address whether Nicaragua “as a whole ‘does not provide impartial tribunals’” and also noted that “nothing in the affirmed rulings is to play a collateral estoppel role in a subsequent court’s litigation of the merits of the plaintiffs’ personal injury claims.” The defendants include the chemical company that supplied the pesticide and the company that used it on its banana plantations.