On September 6, 2022, the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals held that families suing Chiquita Brands International for supporting the paramilitaries who murdered their loved ones in Columbia could continue toward their trials.
In a unanimous, 104 page opinion the Eleventh Circuit reversed a district court’s 2019 decision, which had held that the families had no admissible evidence that the paramilitary organization Chiquita has admitted to funding was responsible for the death of their loved ones. The Court of Appeals held that much of the evidence the Plaintiffs had relied on could be admitted against Chiquita in a trial, rejecting Chiquita’s many legal arguments to the contrary. The Court also held that a reasonable jury could find against Chiquita as to whether the paramilitary organization it funded killed plaintiffs’ loved ones.
The ruling is a significant victory for the families in the appeal and potentially for the thousands of other families also involved in the litigation, in which the appellants were bellwether plaintiffs. More, the appeal clarified the evidentiary standard for victims of mass atrocities and murders in this case and beyond.
SSHHZ’s Paul Hoffman argued on behalf of the families before the Eleventh Circuit with he and John Washington briefing the case along with co-counsel, including Earthrights International, Cohen Milstein Sellers & Toll PLLC; and Judith Brown Chomsky, Anthony DiCaprio, and Arturo Carrillo.