Without admitting liability, Dole Food Co. has reportedly settled a putative class action that claimed the company misrepresented its environmental practices in Guatemala. Laderer v. Dole Food Co. Inc., No. 12-09715 (U.S. Dist. Ct., C.D. Cal., Los Angeles, motion to dismiss filed January 26, 2013).
According to the complaint, the plaintiff would not have purchased the company’s bananas or “paid as much for them,” had he known that its “production methods contaminate water supplies, destroy wetlands, cause flooding, destroy the crops of local communities, and/or cause illnesses in children.” The complaint cited company materials indicating its “unwavering commitment” to “environmental responsibility and social accountability” and alleged violation of consumer fraud laws.
Under the agreement, “[i]n coordination with social programs already undertaken by Dole’s independent grower in Guatemala, Dole and the non-profit organization Water and Sanitation Health, Inc. will collaborate together on a water filter project to assist the local communities in Guatemala.” According to the company, its grower “is fully certified by numerous independent certifying agencies” and “is already a long-standing champion for the local communities,” making “significant charitable contributions to enhance social welfare, health, and well-being.” See Business Wire, January 25, 2013.