A state court judge on Wednesday postponed the contempt hearing of an L.A. attorney accused of defrauding Dole Food Co. by training Nicaraguan men to make false claims that they were harmed by pesticides used on banana plantations in their country.
Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Victoria Chaney rescheduled the hearing for late July, when it is expected a judge will decide whether the attorney, Juan Dominguez, should be held in contempt of court and fined. Dominguez, a personal injury lawyer, is best known for his "Accidentes" advertisements on Los Angeles buses.
Dominguez's lawyer, Sherman Oaks attorney Michael McCarthy, filed a motion last week seeking the removal of Chaney from the case.
According to court documents, McCarthy claims that "Judge Chaney has singled Juan Dominguez out for hostile treatment. She has prejudged his guilt. Her emotional pro-Dole screed masquerading as a judicial order speaks volumes in terms of bias."
It is unlikely that Chaney will proceed over the July hearing because Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger appointed her to California's Second District Court of Appeal last week. In Wednesday's hearing, Chaney said she will be handing the case over to another Superior Court judge before her confirmation hearing, which is scheduled for July 1.
The company is also appealing a case that was brought by Dominguez and went to trial in 2007. In that case, a Los Angeles jury awarded Nicaraguan men $3.3 million in damages, which Chaney later reduced to $1.58 million in damages against Dole.
Dole asked a state court of appeal in late May to send the case back to Chaney in light of the fraudulent activity, which the judge said in April "contaminated" the case.
Dole attorney Edelman asked Chaney to temporarily return for her position on the state court of appeal to handle the matter.
"I can look into it," Chaney said from the bench Wednesday. "I'm not making any promises or rulings, I'm simply looking at the possibility."
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