According to a news source, Costa Rican farmers who allege they were injured by exposure to a pesticide used on Dole Food Co.’s banana plantations have been unable to obtain visas to enter the United States for medical testing. A state court ordered that the plaintiffs be tested in U.S. laboratories, apparently to avoid evidence tampering. Embassy officials have reportedly denied the visas finding that the applicants lack “sufficient ties to Costa Rica.” Plaintiffs’ counsel Mark Sparks contends that his clients are “extremely poor” and lack the indicia of residency, such as bank accounts, business records and car titles, that embassy officials have requested.
Plaintiffs’ and defendants’ counsel have reportedly drafted a letter for the presiding judge to send to U.S. embassy officials to allow the Costa Rican plaintiffs to travel to Los Angeles for the limited purpose of medical testing and responding to interrogatories. At least one legal commentator has suggested that the letter may not be persuasive, saying “State courts obviously don’t have any way of compelling the federal government to allow a non-citizen to come to the United States.” See (California) Daily Journal, January 21, 2011.