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Sept 2 (Reuters) - Hundreds of banana farmers from Central America and South America will again have their day in court, after a U.S. appeals court on Friday revived their lawsuits accusing several companies of sickening them by using a toxic pesticide.
By an 11-0 vote, the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said a Delaware judge erred in dismissing claims by 228 farmers from Costa Rica, Ecuador, Guatemala and Panama, after a different judge in Louisiana had rejected the same claims.
The defendants include several large fruit and chemical companies, among them Chiquita Brands International, Del Monte Fresh Produce, Dow Chemical, Occidental Chemical and Shell Oil.
In litigation dating to 1993, farmers blamed the defendants' use from the 1960s to 1980s of dibromochloropropane (DBCP) in pesticides for causing health problems including sterility, birth defects and an elevated risk of cancer. Most uses of the pesticide were banned in the United States in 1977.
Lawyers for the companies did not immediately respond to requests for comment. (Reporting by Jonathan Stempel in New York; Editing by Dan Grebler)