Dibromochloropropane (DBCP) is a pesticide used against roundworms and threadworms that thrive on and damage tropical fruits such as bananas and pineapples. It was first introduced in 1955 as a soil fumigant. Early studies have shown that prolonged exposure to DBCP causes sterility. DBCP was also found to have mutagenic properties.
Banana plantations in some parts of the globe utilized this pesticides.
In one Supreme Court case (Chiquita Brands, Inc. and Chiquita Brands International, Inc. vs. Hon. George E. Omelio), sometime in 1993, thousands of banana plantation workers from over 14 countries, claiming to have been exposed to DBCP, instituted class suits for damages in the United States against 11 foreign corporations, namely: (1) Shell Oil Company; (2) Dow Chemical Company; (3) Occidental Chemical Corporation; (4) Standard Fruit Company; (5) Standard Fruit and Steamship Co.; (6) Dole Food Company, Inc.; (7) Dole Fresh Fruit Company; (8) Chiquita Brands, Inc.; (9) Chiquita Brands International, Inc.; (10) Del Monte Fresh Produce, N.A.; and (11) Del Monte Tropical Fruit Co.
These workers alleged that while working in these companies’ plantations in the year 1970s up to the 1990s they suffered serious and permanent injuries to their reproductive systems.
The class suit was dismissed by the United States courts and directed the workers to file actions in their respective home countries.
So in May 1996, around 1800 Filipino claimants filed a complaint for damages against the same foreign corporations before the Regional Trial Court in Panabo City, Davao del Norte, Philippines.
During the pendency of the case, however, the complained foreign corporations entered into a worldwide Compromise Agreement in the United States with all the banana plantation workers.
Under the Compromise Agreement, these foreign corporations are obliged to deposit the settlement amount in escrow within 10 business days after they receive a signed Compromise Agreement from the counsel of the claimants.
However, the dispute did not stop there because accordingly when the trial court issued an order for the execution of the Compromised Agreement, it modified the terms and conditions contained in the said agreement.
Hence, some of the complained foreign corporations questioned the order of the trial court to the Supreme Court alleging grave abuse of discretion.
In finding that the trial court committed grave abuse of discretion in issuing the Writ, the highest court of the land, thus, ruled:
“Courts can neither amend nor modify the terms and conditions of a compromise validly entered into by the parties. A writ of execution that varies the respective obligations of the parties under a judicially approved compromise agreement is void.” See case brief [CASE BRIEF 2017-0363] Chiquita Brands, Inc. and Chiquita Brands International, Inc. vs. Hon. George E. Omelio