(Los Angeles, CA) — After improperly interfering with the Los Angeles premiere this past June of the documentary film BANANAS!* and then attacking the film with a defamation lawsuit, Dole Food Company last week voluntarily dismissed the lawsuit in response to the anti-SLAPP motion filed by the filmmakers and the outrage expressed in Europe and elsewhere over Dole’s lawsuit. However, director Fredrik Gertten, producer Margarete Jangard and WG Film are asking the court to compel Dole to pay the fees and costs incurred by the filmmakers to defend the lawsuit.
In addition, the filmmakers announced today that they have decided to withdraw, for now, the counterclaim they had filed against Dole which sought to recover damages suffered by the filmmakers by Dole’s strong-arm tactics in impeding the premiere and distribution of the film.
“We are extremely busy right now with promoting and screening BANANAS!*, which Dole had tried to stop by filing its unfounded lawsuit,” said director Gertten. “Having successfully compelled Dole to end their legal assault on the film, we are now focusing our efforts on getting the film out to the world. Once we catch our breath from working on overcoming the harm initially caused by Dole’s tactics, we will reevaluate reinstituting our action against Dole.”
Lincoln Bandlow of Lathrop & Gage LLP, attorneys for the filmmakers, added that “the law is clear that Dole cannot file its action, compel defendants to incur significant expense in having to file an anti-SLAPP motion to have the case thrown out, and then just slink away with a voluntary dismissal while the motion is pending and not pay for its actions. The lawsuit should never have been filed – Dole has to pay the price for filing it. Whether Dole will have to answer for the additional and significant damage it caused the makers of the film to suffer will be a question that may get revisited some other day.”
BANANAS!* is the non-fiction film centering on the issues surrounding the treatment of banana workers in Nicaragua and covers one of the many lawsuits filed by these workers against Dole and other companies regarding the adverse health effects suffered as a result of the use of the pesticide DBCP in banana fields. The film was screened in June 2009 at the Los Angeles Film Festival out of competition to sold out audiences even after Dole had tried to stop its screenings. Shortly after the festival, Dole filed a defamation lawsuit against the filmmakers and then last week, withdrew the lawsuit.
For information and press enquiries, please contact:
Lathrop & Gage LLP
Phone: +01 816 286 6385
David Magdael & Associates
Phone: +01 213 624 7827