Friday, March 31, 2017

Chevron's False Evidence in Ecuador Now Before U.S. Supreme Court

Chevron's false evidence used to fraudulently cover up its legal responsibility for a $12 billion pollution judgment in Ecuador has been put before the U.S. Supreme Court. This is a real test of the High Court's own ability to police lower court judges who get involved in judicial corruption.

The filing by Steven Donziger, the longtime U.S. lawyer for the affected rainforest communities, is the latest chapter in the campaign to hold the oil giant accountable for dumping billions of gallons of oil waste and causing a humanitarian crisis in the rainforest. Chevron lost the case in Ecuador, leading to a $12 billion judgment that is currently being enforced in Canada.

The company retaliated against Donziger and his clients by filing a civil "racketeering" (RICO) case in U.S. court before a judge who clearly was licking his chops to send a message to the courts of Ecuador and the rest of the developing world to keep their paws off a powerful U.S. oil company -- even if meant accepting distorted, untruthful, and corrupt evidence.

From a new press release on the filing:
Ecuadorian rainforest villagers and their longtime U.S. human rights lawyer have presented proof of Chevron's bribes, false evidence, and fraud to the U.S. Supreme Court as part of a petition to overturn an unprecedented RICO decision by controversial U.S. trial judge Lewis A. Kaplan.
The petition to the U.S. Supreme Court points out that the RICO decision in favor of Chevron is the product of falsified evidence and judicial bias by the trial judge, the aforementioned Mr. Kaplan. After repeatedly signaling his support for Chevron, Kaplan refused to seat a jury and let Chevron drop all damages claims on the eve of trial to prevent a group of impartial fact finders from deciding the case.

Chevron's false evidence included testimony from an admittedly corrupt Ecuadorian witness, Alberto Guerra. Chevron paid Guerra a $2 million bribe, including $38,000 in cash out of a backpack, to become its homegrown patsy. At the time, he had been making $500 per month.

Chevron lawyers led by Randy Mastro then coached Guerra for 53 consecutive days before he took the stand in Kaplan's courtroom. "Money talks, but gold screams," Guerra told Chevron's lawyers when he negotiated his "fee" for testifying. Chevron also gave Guerra health care, a car, an immigration lawyer, and paid his taxes after he was moved to the U.S.

Needless to say, having enriched himself at Chevron's expense, Guerra had virtually no credibility when he took the stand in Kaplan's courtroom. What little he had disappeared completely when he blatantly lied under oath under the bright lights, as was evident to most observers.

Even though he was prepped meticulously by Chevron, Guerra could not keep his story straight. He claimed the villagers arranged for a bribe to the trial judge so they could write the judgment against Chevron. But that story fell apart when a forensic examination of the judge's office computer showed he wrote the judgment by saving it as a Word document at least 480 times in the weeks leading up to its issuance. Guerra had claimed it was given to the judge on a flash drive.

No corroborating evidence ever emerged that a bribe of the judge occurred.

Guerra also admitted to perjuring himself before Kaplan on several key points when he was cross-examined in a separate international arbitration proceeding after the end of the RICO trial. Yet Kaplan -- who repeatedly called the Ecuadorians the "so-called" plaintiffs and who made comments widely construed as racist -- credited Guerra in an obvious attempt to help rescue Chevron from the entirely appropriate liability imposed by Ecuador's courts. Here is a summary of the overwhelming evidence against Chevron in the Ecuador trial.

"Money talks, but gold screams." Chevron's lying witness, Alberto Guerra.

Given that BP has paid out about $50 billion for its Gulf of Mexico spill, Chevron actually got it off easy for its far worse contamination of the rainforest. The company abandoned roughly 1,000 open-air waste pits gouged out of the jungle floor which continue to contaminate soils and groundwater to this day. Most were built in the 1970s. Cancer rates in the affected area have skyrocketed.

Kaplan's mishandling of the case becomes even more outrageous when one considers it was Chevron that insisted the trial take place in Ecuador. In the 1990s, the company filed 14 affidavits in U.S. federal court praising Ecuador's judicial system. To help Chevron get out of the conundrum of having lost in the forum of its choosing, Kaplan determined that Ecuador's entire judicial system was incapable of producing fair verdicts even though Chevron had repeatedly lauded the country's courts.

It also turns out that Kaplan never revealed that during the RICO trial he held investments in Chevron. In an act utterly devoid of ethics, he never disclosed his financial connection to the company even though Donziger and his colleagues twice tried to remove him from the case for bias.

Kaplan also called the Ecuador litigation "mud wrestling" and said Donziger's goal was to use the case to "fix the balance of payments of deficit" of the United States.  "I got it from the beginning," he said. And that was before he held as much as an evidentiary hearing.

Whether the U.S. Supreme Court will step in to police what can only be described as judicial corruption remains to be seen. But don't hold your breath. In recent years, our appellate courts shown little but hostility to foreign plaintiffs who come to our shores to hold American companies accountable for their misconduct abroad.

It is important to remember that Chevron's dirty work in manufacturing evidence for Kaplan was farmed out to the U.S. law firm Gibson Dunn & Crutcher in a practice group headed by the notorious Mastro, the former deputy to New York Mayor Rudy Guliani. Known for his divisive approach to politics, Mastro was largely hated in New York's black and Latino communities when he worked as a public official. It was Mastro who steered the case to Kaplan.

Donziger called Mastro "a corporate hit man of the worst order."

"My experience is that Mastro and his cohorts will do virtually anything, including paying witnesses massive sums of money, to help rescue clients in trouble if the fees are high enough and they believe the judge is friendly enough to protect them," Donziger said. Federal judges twice sanctioned Gibson Dunn for using the discovery process to harass the Ecuadorians. (See here for a history of the firm's many ethical problems.)

Called a "warhorse lawyer" by Rolling Stone magazine, Donziger said this in the press release:
It is our view that Kaplan and the Second Circuit owe the people of Ecuador an apology for refusing to consider evidence that blows up Chevron's false narrative. This is an ongoing stain on the American judiciary in the eyes of the world and it will not go away unless and until the Supreme Court acts.
A larger issue is that Chevron created the RICO strategy as a playbook for polluting corporations to retaliate against human rights lawyers and their clients who hold them accountable. The playbook is designed to threaten advocates who dare challenge the false company narrative. It no doubt represents a grave threat to social justice advocacy. Retaliatory corporate lawsuits are an intimidation tool designed to drive away lawyers and leave human rights victims utterly defenseless.

Chevron even admitted in an email that its strategy was "to demonize Donziger" to distract attention from the fact is deliberately dumped oil waste into the rainforest, decimating indigenous groups and causing a humanitarian crisis that has killed or threatens to kill thousands.

Chevron has used at least 60 law firms and 2,000 lawyers, at a cost in excess of $2 billion, to try to run Donziger and his colleagues off the case. It has not worked. Since Chevron launched its attacks in 2009, the company has lost the underlying case in Ecuador; seen it affirmed unanimously by Ecuador's Supreme Court; and seen Canada's Supreme Court unanimously reject Chevron's attempt to block a seizure action against its assets in that country.

Chevron knows it is in serious trouble in the Ecuador matter. Its strategy is to keep kicking the can down the road, thinking it will be cheaper to pay up far in the future.

In the meantime, Donziger and his clients have attracted top legal talent to their cause -- including John Keker of Keker & Van Nest in San Francisco, Alan Lenczer of Lenczer Slaght in Toronto, and Sergio Bermudes who is one of the top litigators in Brazil. Many other law firms are helping as the villagers maintain enforcement actions against Chevron to force compliance with the judgment.

Chevron CEO John Watson and General Counsel R. Hewitt Pate, who make a combined $30 million annually while the average annual income of their victims is about $1,000, have very little to show for their jihad against the Ecuadorians. Their problem is that regardless of whether the U.S. Supreme Court decides to take the case, the horse has escaped the barn.

Having decided to litigate elsewhere, there is now nothing a U.S. court can do to rescue Chevron from its growing financial liability to the people of Ecuador. But there is much the High Court can do to restore our judiciary in the eyes of the world and protect the First Amendment rights of social justice advocates.

It can start by using the Chevron pollution case to sanction Kaplan for letting a major American oil company try to evade liability by corrupting our system of justice with lies, fraud, and bribes.

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Why Canadian Courts Care about Justice in Ecuador

Reposted from Huffington Post.

Marta Isabel Arrobo, 49, recalls the numerous health problems she and her family have encountered living in close proximity to several pits of the Sur-Oeste Station. Photo credit: Amazon Watch
Marta Isabel Arrobo, 49, recalls the numerous health problems she and her family have encountered living in close proximity to several pits of the Sur-Oeste Station. Photo credit: Amazon Watch

Jay Cameron asks some important questions in his deeply flawed pro-Chevron opinion piece about one of the biggest environmental crimes in history. We think he deserves some answers, but despite repeated requests the Financial Post declined to even respond to our requests to publish this response. Fortunately, here we can provide the answers to Cameron's questions, but some basic facts about the case that Cameron gets wrong must be corrected first.

First, the title of the piece itself is false, since U.S. courts didn't "originally rule" in the Chevron case. In 2011, after almost two decades of legal wrangling and based on thousands of scientific samples – most of which were provided by Chevron itself – an Ecuadorian court ruled Chevron liable for the amount of US $18 billion to pay for environmental cleanup, health care costs and punitive damages for the crimeadmitted to by Chevron – of deliberately dumping over 18 billion gallons of toxic oil drilling water into the once pristine Amazon rainforest, home to 30,000 inhabitants. This trial took place in the venue of Chevron's choice: Ecuador. The "original ruling" on that decision was the Ecuadorian appeals court and later its Supreme Court, which eliminated the punitive damages on constitutional grounds and halved the judgement to US $9.5 billion. Those courts dismissed Chevron's fraud claims after considering the "evidence." Furthermore, the civil suit brought against Chevron was perfectly legal in Ecuador since the "release" given by a prior Ecuadorian administration specifically did not protect Chevron from civil claims, a fact that Chevron itself did not dispute when it argued that Ecuador was the proper venue for this case.

Mr. Cameron refers to "court-tested proof" of fraud in Chevron's retaliatory U.S. suit filed after the Ecuadorian verdict. That is false. In fact, it might interest Mr. Cameron to know that not a single piece of evidence about the actual contamination was even permitted in that trial. Cameron also omits the fact that Chevron's fraud claims were based almost wholly on the testimony of a corrupt ex-judge who later admitted, during another Chevron forum-shopping legal case, that he lied about the alleged bribe. Worse yet, the actual "proof" – the forensic evidence about the authorship of the original Ecuadorian judgment – was not considered by the US court, despite the fact that it validates the Ecuadorian plaintiffs' claims that the judgement was not ghost-written. The Canadian courts, however, were made aware of these facts. They also know about the leaked Chevron videos showing their own technicians finding toxic contamination at former well site Chevron swore to have completely remediated (more evidence that Kaplan refused to allow in his court despite Chevron's lawyers having authenticated them).

Ultimately, the courts in Canada have seen through Chevron's attempt to abuse the legal system with its might and fabricate false stories to escape justice for a crime that still festers in 1,000 unlined open-air pits like scars across the Amazon. Those same courts also realize that Ecuadorians are still dying today from contamination from those pits. They will offer Chevron a chance to explain itself in a trial and Chevron is perfectly welcome to put its key witness on the stand. But will they risk it, since he has already admitted to having lied for them in exchange for a multi-million dollar payoff?

To answer Mr. Cameron's question, the reason the Canadian courts considered the valid claims of the 30,000 Ecuadorian victims of one of the worst corporate crimes in history is because they realize that facts and justice do, in fact, matter.

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Part of Canadian Judge's Decision a Slap in the Face To Human Rights Victims Worldwide

After being forced by Chevron to litigate for an astonishing 24 years, Ecuadorian indigenous villagers fighting for their own survival are now set to seize the company's assets in Canada to pay for a court-mandated clean-up of what is probably the world's worst oil-related environmental disaster.

But Canadian trial judge Glenn Hainey, either through ignorance or by making an old-fashioned mistake of corporate law, has just put up a potential roadblock in this historic campaign. In so doing, he inadvertently has damaged the cause of human rights and helped smooth the way for corporate polluters like Chevron to obtain impunity for their environmental crimes.

In a decision last week, Hainey allowed the Ecuadorian villagers to try to seize Chevron's assets in Canada to force the company to pay for its $12 billion environmental judgment in Ecuador. That's a huge victory for human rights. But oddly, Hainey also ruled that the assets in the oil giant's wholly-owned subsidiary in Canada were off-limits to collection.

Given that most of Chevron's estimated $25 billion worth of assets in Canada are held in the company's subsidiary (called Chevron Canada), that could be a big problem for collection if allowed to stand. We believe this part of Hainey's decision will be swiftly reversed, as was a previous trial judge's decision in favor of Chevron on similar grounds.

As background, Chevron has admitted to abandoning 1,000 toxic waste pits on indigenous ancestral lands in the Ecuadorian rainforest. Five indigenous groups have been decimated and are fighting for survival. The company also confessed that it deliberately dumped billions of gallons of toxic oil waste (known as "production waters") into streams and rivers of Ecuador, causing an outbreak of cancer in the affected area as confirmed by several independent health evaluations.

Hainey's decision has dramatic and even terrifying implications for the Ecuadorian villagers and all human rights victims. The thinking behind it explains why all too often the fossil fuel industry feels it can run roughshod over the planet while externalizing the costs of pollution to taxpayers without ever being held accountable in a court of law.

For context, Chevron has 1,500 wholly-owned subsidiaries around the world. Most of these subsidiaries, like many of those the company has set up in Canada, have no operations but are used for tax avoidance purposes and to avoid liability. Hainey ruled that all Chevron and other corporate polluters have to to do to avoid liability is to stuff their high-value assets (like oil fields, refineries, and pipelines) into a paper subsidiary and leave it at that.

Under Hainey's stunning theory, communities like those in Ecuador that win court judgments over environmental pollution are left out in the cold even though they adhere to the rule of law and fight for decades to win court judgments that get upheld on appeal.

What's really crazy about the logic behind the ruling -- and extremely unfair -- is that Chevron gets to keep all the profits from its subsidiaries, but the subs themselves are not allowed to be used to pay the company's debts. Chevron Canada pays about $3 billion annually in dividends to its sole shareholder Chevron yet is immune from any effort to collect a debt against its patron.

American law professor Aaron Marr Page recently published a brilliant deconstruction of the Hainey decision in the Huffington Post that should be a must-read for those who want to understand how such an unjust result can emerge from an apparently well-meaning judge.

After pointing out that Chevron has engaged in many years of forum shopping, judicial sabotage, and falsification of evidence to evade paying for its pollution in Ecuador, Professor Page writes:
Judge Hainey essentially ruled that a multinational fleeing a valid court judgment that hides its assets in a maze of paper subsidiaries can completely insulate itself from paying its obligations, while losing nothing in terms of profit or control... The decision stands as a dangerous precedent for the many other corporate accountability claims that are currently underway in Canadian and other courts.
Professor Page continues:
[Hainey] says to those claims that even if you prevail at the jurisdiction and the merits/liability stages, even if you sustain your victory on appeal, here is yet another barrier that could prevent you from merely collecting on a successful judgment. The chill this could cast more broadly on efforts to enforce human rights norms is obvious.
Professor Page also underscored that Hainey's fundamental error was that he used the wrong legal analysis of the corporate separateness defense raised by Chevron.

The real issue that Hainey missed is that there is a $12 billion judgment against Chevron based on voluminous record evidence documenting in great detail the company's pollution in Ecuador. The decision was affirmed unanimously by Ecuador's Supreme Court in the country where Chevron accepted jurisdiction. Chevron is a scofflaw debtor and no different than a parent who owes child support and flees to another state to evade paying.

The issue before Hainey was simple: Chevron Canada is a Chevron asset that obviously can be used to seize a debt owed by Chevron under basic legal principles adhered to by all civilized nations and codified in Canada's Execution Act. It's no different than a court ordering the seizure of the car or bank account of a parent to force payment of court-ordered child support.

Instead of adhering to this bedrock principle of law -- creditors have the right to seize a debtor's assets to satisfy a debt --  Hainey took Chevron's bait and went on a radical tangent by engaging in a "pierce the corporate veil" analysis which has no applicability to this enforcement action. He then bailed out Chevron by claiming Chevron Canada is a "separate" company even though it is totally owned and controlled by Chevron and 100% of its revenues flow up to Chevron as dividends.

But even under the incorrect "pierce the corporate veil" analysis, Hainey still got it wrong. In the modern globalized world, it is preposterous to think a company can avoid liability in one country by moving its assets to a paper subsidiary in another that it totally controls and then claim it is a "separate" company.

Hainey never should have succumbed to Chevron's pressure and used the "pierce the corporate veil" analysis. That analysis should apply only when there is a judgment against a subsidiary that has insufficient assets, forcing the creditor to go after the parent. In the Ecuador case, we have the opposite situation. There is a judgment by the villagers against a parent (Chevron) that refuses to pay and is a scofflaw. The subsidiary is simply one asset of the parent that could be seized to satisfy the judgment and force the parent to respect the rule of law.

When one understands Chevron's quarter-century of abuse of the civil justice systems in Ecuador and the United States, Hainey's decision becomes even more bewildering.

One wonders if he was cowed by the 30 or so Chevron lawyers from powerful law firms who showed up in his court during a four-day motions hearing last September. Most of them stared him down while only four or so of the lawyers actually did the argument.

The tab in legal fees to Chevron for what appeared to be a four-day exercise in judicial intimidation was an estimated $500,000. But that's nothing compared to the $2 billion Chevron has paid to hire 60 law firms and 2,000 lawyers to fight the villagers since the inception of the case in 1993.

While the affected villagers make around $500 per year on average tilling contaminated land courtesy of Chevron, Chevron grosses about $250 billion per year and is the third largest corporation in the U.S. Chevron CEO John Watson takes home around $30 million per year -- or 60,000 times as much as each of his victims in the rainforest.

Hainey might remember that Chevron originally fought for ten years to avoid jurisdiction in the United States. The company filed 14 sworn affidavits before U.S. courts praising Ecuador's courts as fair and accepted jurisdiction in Ecuador as a condition of the change of venue. But once the scientific evidence mounted against it in the Ecuador trial, Chevron sold its assets in the country and started to attack the court system it had previously praised.

Hainey's reasoning no doubt will be recognized as extremely disturbing by Canadian appellate courts, which have a long history of being open to the claims of human rights victims. A previous trial judge tried to block the enforcement trial in 2013 only to be unanimously overturned by two Canadian appellate courts, including the country's Supreme Court.

While Hainey closets himself behind mechanical arguments, human rights victims the world over rightly shudder at his reasoning. Courts like those in Ecuador make valiant efforts to advance the rule of law to hold polluters accountable. To be undermined by a trial judge in a faraway land is both demoralizing and a blow to civil society institutions everywhere.

People actually die from pollution as a result of delays produced by incorrect legal decisions.

As said, Canada's Supreme Court already blocked Chevron's earlier attempt to stop the Ecuadorian villagers from launching what in the commercial context would be considered a routine asset seizure action. Canada's appellate courts should order Chevron to defend itself in a speedy enforcement trial that will have zero tolerance for further litigation abuse.

Monday, January 23, 2017

In Canada, Chevron Faces New Nightmare Scenario Over Ecuador Pollution Liability

A Canadian trial judge on Friday issued a ruling allowing indigenous villagers in Ecuador to try to seize critical Chevron assets in the country to pay for the clean-up of the billions of gallons of toxic waste the company dumped into Ecuador's rainforest. The ruling has enormous implications for the rule of law, the corporate accountability movement, and for Chevron shareholders.

After five years of obstructionism by Chevron in Canada, Judge Glenn Hainey of the Ontario Superior Court of Justice finally gave the green light for the rainforest communities to have a trial to target Chevron assets to pay the $12 billion tab needed to remediate their ancestral lands. The affected communities filed their enforcement action in Toronto in 2012 after winning a court battle the previous year in Ecuador that awarded them the damages.

Chevron refused to pay the judgment, selling off its assets in Ecuador and hiding behind narrow technical arguments. Chevron had accepted jurisdiction in Ecuador and later was found to have committed fraud in the trial by falsifying evidence, trying to hide contamination from the court, and engaging in a sham remediation.

Here are some of the important implications from the latest Canada decision:

Chevron has definitively lost its bid to avoid an enforcement trial in Canada. Chevron used every technical defense in the book to avoid the Canada enforcement trial. Even Canada's Supreme Court ruled against Chevron. Now it must face a terrifying day of reckoning over how its key witness, Alberto Guerra, has lied under oath and that his fundamental story about judicial bribery is false.

Chevron's U.S. lawyer Randy Mastro will face enormous risk. American lawyers Randy Mastro and Avi Weitzman of the U.S. law firm Gibson Dunn violated the law by arranging for Guerra to be paid $2 million for his false testimony in a farcical retaliation trial in the U.S.  Mastro and his team coached Guerra for 53 consecutive days before he testified; Guerra later admitted lying on the stand. Gibson Dunn's obstruction of justice will be front and center in the Canada proceeding.

Look for Chevron's executives to try to settle before the trial: Chevron shareholders already are up in arms over management's mishandling of the Ecuador liability. Look for embattled CEO John Watson to order his lawyers to try to settle the case before Guerra is forced to take the stand and the company's entire narrative falls apart.

Chevron's strategy of perpetual delay just got shellacked. Trial judge Hainey tossed out two of the company's main defenses which already had been litigated and rejected by three layers of courts in Ecuador. The company will be kept on a short leash in Canada, undermining its strategy of delaying any judicial procedure that could hold it accountable on the merits.

Chevron is kidding itself if it thinks its Canadian subsidiary is immune from liability. The part of the Hainey decision that immunized Chevron's wholly-owned subsidiary from enforcement runs counter to logic, violates the spirit of a prior decision of the Canada Supreme Court, and is likely to be reversed on appeal.  Ten separate Canadian appellate judges already have reversed a similar ruling when issued by a prior trial judge in 2013.

Karen Hinton, the spokesperson for the villagers, was forceful in her response to the latest development. She called it a "resounding victory for Ecuadorian indigenous groups and farmer communities who have struggled for more than two decades to clean up its toxic waste."

Hinton added:
The court sent Chevron a powerful message that it can no longer ride the legal merry-go-round and re-litigate the same discredited defenses in different courts as part of its strategy of delay...The villagers expect to proceed later this year with their seizure of Chevron's assets to force the company to respect multiple court judgments that found it guilty of dumping billions of gallons of toxic waste into the waterways of Ecuador, causing an outbreak of cancer and other harms afflicting thousands of people. Ultimately, we are confident that Canada's courts will hold Chevron fully accountable for its outrageous and criminal conduct in Ecuador.
Carlos Guaman, an Ecuador community leader and the executive director of the coalition that brought the enforcement action, said he wanted to "thank" Canada's courts "for sending a strong message to Chevron that its outrageous strategy of blocking justice will soon end."

Thursday, January 5, 2017

Chevron's Massive Pollution In Ecuador Frames Death of Legendary Nurse Rosa Moreno

Rosa Moreno, the legendary nurse in Ecuador who spent three decades treating children and others afflicted with cancer in the area of Chevron's oil pollution in the Amazon rainforest, has now herself succumbed to cancer, the Amazon Defense Coalition reported on Wednesday. One might reasonably question whether Chevron's refusal to clean up its pollution in Ecuador played a role in this tragic event.

Moreno, a splendid human being well-known to those of us who write The Chevron Pit, died this week in the Amazon village of San Carlos after a two-year battle with the illness. Moreno, 55, had hosted a long line of celebrities -- including Brad Pitt and the actor Trudie Styler -- in her tiny health clinic in the town of San Carlos as she tried to sensitize the world to the plight of people who won a historic $9.5 billion judgment against Chevron in 2013.
Rosa Moreno in front of the San Carlos clinic
San Carlos is akin to Love Canal in the United States, only worse. For decades the village has been home to dozens of toxic waste Superfund sites that include open-air waste pits filled with oil sludge that that were built by Texaco in the 1970s and abandoned. Texaco installed pipes to run the toxic waste into nearby streams and rivers relied on by locals for drinking water. The pits were documented in a report on 60 Minutes and in the documentary Crude by acclaimed filmmaker Joe Berlinger.

Chevron bought Texaco in 2001 and inherited the liability from the disaster. Over the years, the company has used 60 law firms and roughly 2,000 lawyers to evade paying for the court-mandated clean-up.

Aside from the pits, one of which is pictured below, Texaco located a large oil separation station in the middle of town. The station systematically discharged billions of gallons of benzene-laced production waters into rivers and streams, creating a ticking time bomb that has killed or threatens to kill thousands of people. Chevron never even extended the courtesy of putting up fences around the hazardous waste sites to keep animals out and to warn people away.

Oil pit built by Texaco in the 1970s and abandoned by Chevron near San Carlos, where Rosa Moreno lived.

Moreno was a bright light in the middle of what might be the most contaminated town on earth. From a press release from the Amazon Defense Coalition, the grass roots organization that brought the historic lawsuit against Chevron:
Moreno was mostly known as a person who tried against all odds to stave off the impending health disaster with her compassionate care of young children. Her clinic was a short walk from her house, and she was often found there seven days per week. Moreno meticulously kept a handwritten log of people in the clinic who had died, often without receiving proper treatment given the paucity of doctors in the area. The list in recent years had grown to dozens of names -- many young children -- even though only 2,000 people lived in the town. Each name on the list had a date of birth and date of death scrawled in Moreno's distinctive script.
Steven Donziger, the longtime U.S. legal advisor to the affected Ecuadorian communities who has been targeted by Chevron for his work to hold the company accountable, laid some of the blame for Moreno's death at the feet of the company:
I firmly believe Rosa and many others like her in San Carlos would not have died had Chevron mets its legal and moral responsibilities to the people of Ecuador. Rosa's death, like those of many others in Ecuador, was entirely preventable. Chevron should provide compensation to her family and medicine and diagnostic equipment for the San Carlos clinic, in addition to remediating the abysmal environmental conditions that continue to put innocent lives at risk.
Moreno's legacy will live on in many ways.

Many of the celebrities who visited Moreno in her clinic took action to alleviate the human suffering and to protest Chevron's outrageous behavior. They include Styler, who has written articles to call attention to Chevron's human rights abuses and who started a project with UNICEF that has delivered clean water to numerous villages in the affected area.

Rosa Moreno and colleague Mariana Jimenez in San Francisco
Rep. James P. McGovern (D-MA), the only U.S. Congressman to visit the devastated area, toured the health clinic in 2008 and then vividly described the horrific conditions created by Chevron in a moving letter to President-elect Obama. Bianca Jagger went to Chevron's shareholder meeting and gave the company's CEO hell in a blistering speech. Berlinger's film included Moreno and scenes from her clinic.

Karen Hinton, the former press secretary for New York City Mayor Bill DeBlasio, has hounded Chevron for its irresponsible behavior in Ecuador in a series of blogs published on The Huffington Post. And Donziger -- a classmate of Barack Obama from Harvard Law School -- has been a thorn in Chevron's side for more than two decades, as his own writings illustrate.

If you have any doubt about the cause of Moreno's death, look no further than the numerous independent studies that demonstrate Chevron's toxic legacy has produced skyrocketing cancer rates in the area where she lived. One study from a former Rand Corporation analyst predicts 9,000 deaths in the affected area in the coming years if Chevron refuses to remediate the disaster.

For more on Texaco and Chevron's dastardly behavior in Ecuador, see this video.

Although Chevron's management team surely never thought it possible, Rosa was among the many impoverished Ecuadorians who banded together and fought for years before finally holding the company legally accountable in 2011 after an eight-year trial. In a paradigmatic breakthrough in the human rights area, several prominent corporate law and litigation firms around the world signed up to represent the villagers. And in 2013, Ecuador's Supreme Court unanimously affirmed the trial court ruling in a 222-page decision that meticulously documented the overwhelming evidence against Chevron.

Although the lawsuit originally was filed in the U.S., the trial was held in Ecuador at Chevron's request and the company willingly accepted jurisdiction there. Of course, Chevron thought it could engineer a political dismissal by pressuring Ecuador's government. That unethical strategy backfired.

Chevron's continued obstinance -- it sold off its assets in Ecuador during the trial and has vowed to fight "until hell freezes over" -- forced Rosa and her friends to try to seize company assets in Canada to pay for their clean-up. That country's Supreme Court recently backed the villagers in a unanimous opinion. Chevron is now facing its own ticking time bomb in court.

Rosa, your legacy will inspire the affected communities and their allies around the world to fight on until Chevron pays the court judgment in full and the responsible individuals are held accountable for their misconduct.