A Los Angeles judge has wiped out most of a jury verdict awarding millions of dollars to Nicaraguan field hands who applied pesticides to Dole Food Co. crops and who are now sterile, the Los Angeles Times reports.


Although the decision leaves four workers with $1.58 million, it will undercut claims of an estimated 6,000 others who have sued in the United States for similar injuries suffered outside of this country.


Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Victoria G. Chaney overturned jury verdicts in the first U.S. trials of claims filed by victims of the pesticide DBCP.


It was produced 30 years ago but is now banned worldwide.


Chaney, in a written decision dated March 7, found that because Dole was a user, not a marketer, of the pesticide, the firm cannot be subjected to liability without fault.


In wiping out the half of the verdict made up of punitive damages, Chaney reasoned they may not be used to punish "a domestic corporation for injuries that occurred only in a foreign country."


The injuries occurred more than 30 years ago, a factor Chaney also cited in reversing the verdicts.

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