11th Circuit Court of Appeals
11th Circuit Court of Appeals (Jason Bennitt)

Produce giant Chiquita Brands International is asking a federal appeals court to toss out lawsuits filed against it in the U.S. by thousands of Colombians whose relatives were killed in a bloody civil war.

An 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals panel will hear arguments Thursday.

Chiquita once had huge banana operations in Colombia. The company says the lawsuits should be dismissed because Chiquita can’t be directly linked to each killing, despite paying $1.7 million to a right-wing paramilitary group.

Lawyers for the Colombians say Chiquita should be held liable, even if executives didn’t know specifics about the death squad killings.

Chiquita pleaded guilty in 2007 to U.S. criminal charges over the payments and paid a $25 million fine. The company insists the payments were made under duress.