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AP Worldstream: Nicaraguan field workers to get $300,000 in sterility settlement with U.S. chemical company

EXTRACT: In 1997, Dow, Shell Group and Occidental Chemical Corp. settled one suit with 26,000 workers in Latin America and elsewhere for $41 million. Both men and women said they were injured by the chemical, but sterility has been proven only in males.

THE ARTICLE

A Southern California chemical company has agreed to pay $300,000 (A221,400) to Nicaraguan field workers who filed a lawsuit claiming one of the firm’s pesticides caused them to become sterile.

The agreement between Amvac Chemical Corp. and 13 plaintiffs still needs to be signed off on by a judge. Individual amounts from the settlement ranged from $2,000 (A1,475) to $60,000, (A44,280) according to court documents filed last month.

The Newport Beach-based company said in court documents the settlement is “a compromise of disputed claims and is not an admission of liability.”

Amvac spokeswoman Kelly Kozuma declined further comment.

The lawsuit also names Dow Chemical Co. and Dole Fruit Co. as defendants and is scheduled for trial next month in Los Angeles Superior Court.

“The case isn’t over with this settlement,” said Duane Miller, an attorney for the plaintiffs. “We intend to prosecute the case.”

The workers contend they were sterilized while exposed to a pesticide called DBCP on banana plantations nearly three decades ago, the lawsuit said.

Each of the companies has denied any workers were harmed by the pesticide, which was manufactured by Dow and Amvac and used by Dole on plantations in Latin America. The chemical is no longer made or used.

“We have been fighting this fight for so long,” plaintiff Carlos Miguel Blanco told The Los Angeles Times in Monday’s editions. Blanco, 48, claims he was rendered infertile while working on a banana plantation in the 1970s.

“We want to finish this, not just for me,” he said, “but for everyone who was affected.”

Tens of thousands of banana workers worldwide have sued over the use of DBCP, which has been shown to cause sterility and brain and kidney damage in tests of lab animals. No lawsuit has ever gone to trial in the United States.

In 1997, Dow, Shell Group and Occidental Chemical Corp. settled one suit with 26,000 workers in Latin America and elsewhere for $41 million. Both men and women said they were injured by the chemical, but sterility has been proven only in males.

Published: Apr 16, 2007

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