Dole signs settlement agreement over DBCP exposure

Dole Food Company Inc (NYSE: DOLE) has announced the signing of a definitive settlement agreement with the Provost & Umphrey Law Firm LLP.

Full implementation of this agreement will bring to an end all lawsuits brought against Dole and the firm’s entities on behalf of foreign farm workers who claim injuries from alleged exposure more than 30 years ago to the agricultural chemical DBCP.

The settlement includes five lawsuits in the United States and 33 lawsuits in Nicaragua, which includes any and all Nicaragua judgments and plaintiff claims associated with Provost & Umphrey. The 33 Nicaragua cases represent approximately $9 billion in claimed damages and, in seven of those cases, two judgments totaling $907.5 million.

Dole will not fund the settlement by making any payments until specific conditions are satisfied, including receiving a signed release from each plaintiff, dismissals of cases and judgments, and a good-faith settlement determination by the Los Angeles Superior Court that is presiding over four of the US cases. The Los Angeles Court has set November 3, 2011, for the good-faith determination, to assess and confirm the fairness of the settlement to all parties. Full implementation is targeted to occur by the end of 2011. The settlement will not have a material effect on Dole’s financial condition, results of operations, or cash flows.

Michael Carter, Dole’s executive vice-president, general counsel, and corporate secretary, said, “Dole appreciates the commitment by Provost & Umphrey and their clients to resolving this long-standing dispute and looks forward to completing the full implementation of the settlement.

“This settlement is a business-based solution to this dispute, without any causal connection between DBCP and the plaintiffs’ allegations,” said Carter. “It furthers Dole’s plan to find possible business-based solutions for all DBCP claims, even though there is no reliable scientific basis for alleged injuries from the agricultural field application of DBCP.”

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