"Reporting from Los Angeles and Chinandega, Nicaragua -- In the sweltering hub of Nicaragua's once-thriving banana industry, Juan Dominguez saw an opportunity.
He arrived in Chinandega in 2002, shortly after watching a CNN report about men claiming they had become sterile from exposure to DBCP, a pesticide used on banana plantations in the 1970s. Until then, Dominguez was best known as the mustachioed personal injury lawyer pictured on the backs of Los Angeles buses and had no experience in international law.
'I'm not a religious man,' he said recently, 'but this felt like a calling.'
Today, it feels more like a disaster.
Dominguez stands accused by a judge of participating in a broad conspiracy built on phony claims. Cases that he expected would go to trial this year have been thrown out. A $3.2-million jury verdict on behalf of six plaintiffs in 2007, which he had hoped would be the first of many victories against Dole Food Co. and Dow Chemical Co., is likely to be overturned."
Alan Zarembo and Victoria Kim report for the Los Angeles Times August 5, 2009.