LOS ANGELES – A judge Thursday dismissed a $2.3 million judgment against Dole Food Co. in a lawsuit by purported Nicaraguan banana workers, saying the company and the court were victims of a massive fraud.

Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Victoria Chaney said that because of actions by plaintiffs in Nicaragua it may never be possible for anyone to know the truth of the case.

A jury in 2007 awarded the money to six plaintiffs who claimed exposure to pesticides at Dole plantations made them sterile.

The judge found that a Los Angeles lawyer orchestrated a fraud in which he recruited people to say they had been banana workers when they had not. Chaney also found that a series of “John Doe” witnesses who blew the whistle on the fraud were generally credible.

The judge dismissed a companion case last year for similar reasons after testimony that plaintiffs pretended to have been Dole workers on farms in the 1970s and faked lab tests to show they became sterile.

Chaney has been elevated to the California 2nd District Court of Appeals but returned to Los Angeles Superior Court to hear Dole’s motion to throw out the verdict since she handled the original trial.