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Tuesday, July 23, 2024 | Back issues
Courthouse News Service Courthouse News Service

Judge Nixes 425 Plaintiffs in DynCorp Class Action

(CN) - A federal judge in Washington, D.C., dismissed two groups of plaintiffs -- 425 in all -- from the plaintiffs in a class action against DynCorp, a company hired by the U.S. government to spray pesticides over Colombian farms in an effort to wipe out cocaine and heroin production.

U.S. District Judge Richard Roberts said there were two classes of plaintiffs who failed to provide enough details about their alleged injuries.

In the class action, Ecuadorian farmers accused private military contractor DynCorp of spraying pesticides on their farms as part of "Plan Colombia," the U.S. government's effort to eradicate Colombian cocaine and heroin production. The farmers said they had "no connection to the production of illegal drugs in Colombia," and claimed that the pesticides injured their health and damaged their property.

The plaintiffs Roberts excluded from the class action failed to provide complete answers to questionnaires, despite being given three deadline extensions, the judge ruled. Those plaintiffs fell into two categories: plaintiffs who provided dates of exposure but did not disclose their location, and plaintiffs who gave inadequate information about their alleged damages.

The judge noted that more than two years have passed since the plaintiffs were ordered to complete the questionnaires.

The farmers had argued that the DynCorp defendants "should draw their own conclusions" about the questionnaires, but Judge Roberts said that's not DynCorp's job.

"The plaintiffs essentially are asking the defendants to draw conclusions based on incomplete information," Roberts wrote.

The refusal to turn over the information violated several court orders and prevented DynCorp from structuring its defense, he ruled.

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