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The producers of a documentary film called “Bananas!” have brought in a bunch of seasoned attorneys from Lathrop & Gage‘s Los Angeles office to pick apart a defamation lawsuit brought against them by Dole Food Co. Earlier this month, Dole sued the makers of the film, which tells the tale of the first U.S. trial involving the pesticide claims against Dole. In 2007, a jury in Los Angeles awarded $5.8 million in damages to six Nicaraguan workers in Tellez v. Dole. But in April, a Los Angeles County, Calif., Superior Court judge threw out two similar cases against Dole, finding that the plaintiffs and their lawyers — particularly lead plaintiffs’ attorney Juan J. Dominguez of the Law Offices of Juan J. Dominguez in Los Angeles — fraudulently falsified work documents and medical records. Last month, “Bananas!,” directed by Fredrik Gertten and produced by Margarete Jangard of Sweden’s WG Film AG, was screened during Film Independent’s Los Angeles Film Festival. The film excluded all mention of the fraud finding, according to Dole’s defamation lawsuit. This week, the Swedish filmmakers retained a team of attorneys from Lathrop & Gage lead by Lincoln Bandlow, a First Amendment specialist in Los Angeles, and trial attorney John Shaeffer, partner in charge of the Los Angeles office. Bandlow has represented clients in the motion picture, television, publishing and broadcasting industries in media and intellectual property matters. Shaeffer was lead attorney in the State of California’s antitrust case against Sempra Energy during the energy crisis. The attorneys have not yet filed court documents responding to the allegations. “We’re going to respond vigorously that they have no merit and the case should be dismissed,” Bandlow said. “We will bring attention to the court as quickly as possible to the fact that this thing has no merit at all.” Lathrop & Gage, based in Kansas City, Mo., opened a Los Angeles office on Jan. 1 after merging with Spillane Shaeffer Aronoff Bandlow, a Los Angeles litigation boutique whose clients included NBC Universal Inc. and Sony Pictures Entertainment Inc. The acquisition added Shaeffer, Bandlow, David Aronoff, four associates and nine staff members to the office.

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