Tuesday, December 21, 2010

The Big Bananas and the Big Banana Judgment: A sadly sterile outcome.

I remember Walter Lack as a prominent attorney many years ago.  His reputation has not flagged, and he remains a "big banana" in the profession, as does his friend and occasional co-counsel Thomas Girardi.  Both of these Los Angeles based attorneys sought to enforce a half-billion dollar judgment entered by a Nicaraguan Court against Dole Food Co. The judgment mistakenly listed the defendant as "Dole Food Corporation" instead of the correct identification of "Dole Food Company".  Go figure:  Corporation vs. Company, and a half billion dollars in the balance. 

The judgment was a noble cause:  to recover damages for Nicaraguan banana workers who claimed sterility because Dole used pesticides without warning of the "family planning" implications.  Lack and Girardi came under investigation by the CA State Bar for alleged impropriety in misleading the U.S. District Court in Los Angeles that the judgment debtors were properly named:  that is, that the judgment was indeed enforceable.  The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals was upset at the alleged misrepresentation, and suspended Lack from appearing before the Court and "reprimanded" Girardi.  The State Bar however found no wrong doing, and declined to discipline either man.  After peeling away the layers on these bananas, they were found still fit for resale to the public. 

So the subtext:  two consumer rights champions making individual fortunes by taking on mega-corporations with unlimited resources to mount a defense, have a tense time before the State Bar, probably with the help of the "poor and victimized" defendant, Dole Food Company.  The big bananas almost slipped on their own peels.  Fortunately for the sterile banana workers, their tripped up advocates landed on their feet, to fight yet another day. 

"If the pink slip doesn't fit, get redressed!"
Click to see my wardrobe of remedies. Link