Fresh Del Monte Produce Wins in Florida’s Third District Court of Appeal

November 5, 2008

Cleary Gottlieb won on appeal an affirmance from Florida’s Third District Court of Appeal of a final judgment that had been entered in favor of Cleary Gottlieb’s clients Fresh Del Monte Produce Inc., its current principal shareholder IAT Group, Inc., and its current Chairman and CEO Mohammad Abu-Ghazaleh. The appeal was decided on November 5, and it followed a jury verdict won by Cleary Gottlieb in November 2006.

At the trial, the plaintiffs, who were former indirect shareholders of Fresh Del Monte, claimed that Cleary Gottlieb’s clients rigged the 1996 bidding process for the company with the alleged payment of a bribe. After a three week trial, the jury rejected plaintiffs’ case. Plaintiffs appealed, seeking a new trial based on claimed errors committed by the judge during trial.

The Florida appellate court did not reach the issues raised by the plaintiffs’ appeal. Instead, it affirmed the final judgment on the alternative ground that the plaintiffs, as indirect shareholders, lacked standing to bring a direct action and were required to have brought a derivative suit.