A Los Angeles court has ordered Dole Food Company, Inc. to pay $199,959.25 in attorney fees and costs to the Swedish filmmakers of the documentary
Bananas!*. The court granted an anti-SLAPP (Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation) motion filed by filmmakers Fredrik Gertten, Margarete Jangàrd and their prodco WG Film and struck the defamation complaint filed by Dole in July 2009. Bananas!* examines the treatment of banana workers in Nicaragua and follows a lawsuit against Dole and other companies for the health effects resulting from the use of pesticides in the banana fields. After the filmmakers completed the doc, and prior to its screening at the Los Angeles Film Festival in 2009, it was discovered that the lawsuit against Dole was based on fraudulent material. The screening went ahead, with the film showing twice during the fest, albeit with a disclaimer from its organizers.
Dole dismissed its defamation lawsuit in October 2009, but ‘without prejudice’ so that Dole could potentially re-file the case in the future, which the filmmakers saw as a threat to the distribution of the film. ‘We are extremely happy and relieved with the Court’s ruling after this year-long struggle’ said director Gertten in a statement. ‘We are pleased that Bananas!* can now reach a larger audience in the United States and that the important issues raised in the film such as human rights for farm workers in third world countries can continue to be discussed and debated.’ No statement from Dole’s lawyers has emerged as of press time.
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