DBCP is a nematocide (i.e., it's used to kill nematodes), used in connection with pineapple and banana farming, and discontinued in the United States beginning in the late 1970's based on allegations that the chemical reduced male sperm counts. It's been the subject of litigation in California for nearly thirty years. And, there's been much litigation by field workers against Dole Food Co. and Dow Chemical Co. in Central America, none of which has resulted in any money changing hands.
The first California trial by Central American field workers against the two companies resulted in a mixed verdict yesterday. The cases of twelve plaintiffs were tried together. Six plaintiffs won, and six lost. The total awarded to the six winning plaintiffs was $3.2 million, not a particularly dramatic verdict for six plaintiffs in a toxic injury case (and probably not much of a pay day for their lawyers, given what it takes to prepare and try a case such as this). The jury is reported to have assigned 60 - 80% fault to Dole and 20 - 40% to Dow, depending on the plaintiff.
Reactions by the two companies were interesting. Dole was happy to win six of the cases, and lauded the jury in that respect. On the other hand,
". . . .the six verdicts against Dole are flat wrong and the result of junk science, raw emotional appeals and false testimony. These six men were not injured by DBCP or Dole, and it is unjust for them to be awarded money from us. We are appealing to set the record straight.”
"Dole will not be intimidated by ugly accusations, fraudulent claims, junk science or threats from U.S. trial lawyers, and is prepared to fully litigate each and every case of workers over the last 30 years. . . ."
Dow, who is now only in this for a small share, was apparently a bit more sanguine. The AP quoted Gus Felice, it's chief trial counsel, as follows:
"Dow Chemical Co. is very pleased that this jury, after four months of listening to the evidence, concluded that six of the 12 plaintiffs were entitled to no recovery whatsoever..."
The case was scheduled to go back to the jury today to determine whether the defendants acted with malice, whether punitive damages should be awarded, and if so, how much and against whom.
Initial MSM reporting on the verdict is here, here and here. Dow's press release is here.