Trials & Litigation

Boies Schiller hopes to use radio, social media to inform clients it is withdrawing from Chiquita litigation

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Boies Schiller Flexner wants to withdraw from its representation of about 1,400 Colombian clients suing Chiquita Brands International for its alleged support of paramilitary violence.

But so far, the law firm has connected with fewer than 550 clients, and it hopes to notify the remainder using certified mail, radio announcements and social media ads, report Reuters and Law360.

The firm said the clients won’t be harmed by the withdrawal because they will be represented by a different law firm that has been handling the litigation.

But Chiquita Brands International lawyers from Blank Rome are opposing Boies Schiller’s notification plan, according to Reuters and Law360. Chiquita said the judge overseeing the multidistrict litigation has already held that written notice is required. And Chiquita has pointed out the trouble that can happen when law firms lose touch with their clients, as evidenced by a 2014 decision involving tobacco litigation.

That decision by the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals at Atlanta upheld dismissal of lawsuits filed on behalf of smokers who were no longer alive when the cases were filed.

The “real issue” is whether Boies Schiller may “benefit from their failure to maintain regular contact with their clients,” lawyers for Chiquita wrote. “The answer must be no because the purpose of maintaining regular counsel-client contact is to assure the efficient administration of justice, avoid frivolous litigation by assuring clients genuinely want to continue with the litigation, and avoid the waste of party and judicial resources.”

The case is In Re: Chiquita Brands International Inc. Alien Tort Statute and Shareholder Derivative Litigation.

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