A judge has cleared the way for five former Nicaraguan banana plantation workers to seek punitive damages against Dole Fresh Fruit Co. for exposing them to a pesticide in the 1970s they say left them sterile.
Dole objected to punitive damages, but Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Victoria G. Chaney says it's up to the jury.
Last week, a jury decided six of the 12 men who sued Westlake-based Dole Food Co. and Midland, Mich.-based Dow Chemical Co. were entitled to more than $3 million in damages. The jury will begin considering punitive damages for five of the men Wednesday.
Dow is exempt from paying punitive damages.
Dow made the pesticide DBCP, and Dole used it to kill microscopic worms in banana tree roots.