Court Rules in Favor of Cincy Paper in 'Chiquita' Case

By: (AP) An appeals court on Friday rejected a lawsuit by a former Chiquita lawyer who accused The Cincinnati Enquirer of exposing him to prosecution by failing to protect his identity as a confidential source in stories critical of the banana company.

A three-judge panel of the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals unanimously agreed with a 2003 federal court ruling that George G. Ventura failed to support his claim.

Messages seeking comment were left with the offices of Marc Mezibov and John Feldmeier, attorneys for Ventura. No telephone listing was available for Ventura.

Thomas Callinan, editor and vice president of the Enquirer, said the newspaper was pleased with the ruling.

The Enquirer published articles in 1998 alleging improper business practices by Chiquita Brands International Inc. in Central American countries where it operated banana plantations. The newspaper later renounced the stories, fired the lead writer, and paid Chiquita a $14 million settlement.

Ventura pleaded no contest in 1999 to charges he tried to gain unauthorized access to computer systems and was sentenced to probation. He sued the Enquirer and its owner, Gannett Co. Inc., alleging he became the target of a criminal investigation because Enquirer reporters failed to protect his identity.

Ventura said the prosecution damaged his career and caused him to lose his job with a Salt Lake City law firm.


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