Guatemalan union leaders and their families filed a lawsuit in New York State Supreme Court in Manhattan against Coca-Cola Co., accusing the world’s biggest beverage company of complicity in violence against labor leaders. Lead plaintiff José Armando Palacios says he was repeatedly targeted in attempts on his life after he joined the union at a Coca-Cola processing plaint in Guatemala City, owned by Industria de Cafe or Incasa, in 2004. Thugs he charges were hired by Coke invaded his home, held his wife and family at gunpoint, and threatened to shoot them. Palacios fled to the United States in 2006, where he was later joined by his family.
The plaintiffs say they filed the complaint in New York due to lack of access “to an independent and functioning legal system in Guatemala,” citing “a corrupt judiciary which has been undermined by the intimidation and murder of witnesses, prosecutors, lawyers and judges.” They seek punitive damages for wrongful death, assault, battery, trespass, false imprisonment, unjust enrichment, negligence and other charges. The lead attorney is Terry Collingsworth, who has pursed lawsuits against Coca-Cola for a decade, in cooperation with the Campaign to Stop Killer Coke. (Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Courthouse News Service, March 2)
See our last post on Guatemala.