LA judge in banana workers case cites threats

A California judge says there have been threats against her and witnesses in connection with lawsuits claiming Nicaraguan workers on Dole Foods banana plantations were harmed by pesticides.

Judge Victoria Chaney met with lawyers privately in Los Angeles on Monday concerning new claims of witness tampering, then took the bench abruptly to announce there had been threats to her and to witnesses in a Nicaraguan radio address.

Chaney is considering whether to dismiss a $2.3 million judgment handed to plaintiffs after a 2007 trial in Los Angeles. Dole has claimed it was obtained by fraud.

The case is closely related to one she dismissed last year on grounds of fraud. Dole's lawyers claim Los Angeles and Nicaraguan lawyers recruited men to falsely claim they were rendered sterile.

Copyright 2010 The Associated Press.