Coca-Cola cleared in Colombian case

A federal appeals court in Atlanta upheld Tuesday the ruling of a lower court that found no connection between Coca-Cola Co. or its Colombian bottlers in the deaths and torture of union leaders in the South American nation.

Surviving family members and fellow union leaders alleged that the Coca-Cola bottlers collaborated with paramilitary forces to kill, torture or silence union leaders at their bottling plants in the 1990s.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit said the case outlined “a litany of unfortunate events occurring in a country that Plaintiffs describe as experiencing ongoing civil unrest and lacking a robust legal system.”

The plaintiffs, though, failed to establish a connection between Coca-Cola or the bottlers to the events, the court said. The ruling upheld decisions reached earlier by a district court in Miami that dismissed the case first against Coca-Cola and then later against the bottlers.

Tuesday’s ruling follows a long-running legal battle for Coca-Cola and the bottling companies.Coca-Cola was pleased with the decision by the court of appeals, said company spokeswoman Kerry Kerr. It follows multiple investigations, both internal and external, that all conclude the employees enjoy a safe working environment, she said.