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Chiquita, the largest U.S. banana seller, first had banana operations in Colombia in 1899. The company sold its Colombian subsidiary Banadex in 2004.
Chiquita’s second argument involves the Supreme Court’s recent decision involving the Alien Tort Statute, a law dating to 1789 used by lawyers representing victims of torture, extrajudicial killings and war crimes to seek damages in U.S. courts. That law allows claims for violations of the "laws of nations," U.S. treaties and the Torture Victims Protection Act.
Chiquita contends that charges in the Colombian lawsuits have no connection to the U.S. under the new Supreme Court decision.
"Instead, they involve allegations that Colombian guerrilla and paramilitary groups tortured and killed Colombians in Colombia," the company’s court filing says, meaning a U.S. federal judge has no jurisdiction.
The Colombians’ lawyers, however, argue that Chiquita differs from the Dutch oil company in the Kiobel case because it is based in the U.S., decisions about making the AUC payments were made in this country and Chiquita does a robust U.S. business. Wolf said the 11th Circuit could issue a ruling that would bolster human rights cases that suffered a blow in the Supreme Court.
"It is an opportunity to establish and important precedent and preserve this area of human rights law," Wolf said.
Associated Press writer Laura Wides-Munoz contributed to this story.
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