Source AP ©

Police arrest Nicaraguan worker who is to testify in product-liability case

Police detained a worker from Nicaragua who was to testify against Dole Food Co. and Dow Chemical Co. at Los Angeles International Airport for possible visa violations.

Claudio Gonzalez was sent back to Nicaragua on Friday even though he had one visit to the United States remaining on his visa. However, authorities found the ink from the check mark for a prior visit was smudged, said plaintiffs' attorney Duane Miller.

Gonzalez is one of 12 banana farm workers who sued Dole Fresh Fruit Co. and Standard Fruit Co., now part of Dole, claiming that exposure to a pesticide in the 1970s made them sterile. The lawsuit also said Dow Chemical Co. "actively suppressed information" about the pesticide's reproductive toxicity.

Dole and Dow deny liability in the case.

Miller and defense attorneys agreed to work together to talk with the U.S. Embassy in Nicaragua to try to remedy the situation.

Superior Court Judge Victoria G. Chaney also wrote a letter to the embassy in support of the plaintiff's re-entry, the Daily Journal reported.

Testimony in the case will resume Sept. 4 after a two-week break. The trial is expected to last through September.

The case is one of five filed in Los Angeles County by at least 5,000 agricultural workers from Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Honduras and Panama.

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