Thursday, April 21, 2011

Chevron Gets Scared, Moves to Avoid Jury Trial

Chevron has launched yet another front on its endless legal shenanigans. In a desperate attempt to avoid a jury trial, the oil giant has filed papers in Judge Lewis Kaplan’s court seeking to remove Steven Donziger and his highly-respected counsel John Keker out of the first phase of a racketeering case in New York that the oil giant filed in February to try to escape paying an $18 billion judgment in Ecuador for causing massive pollution to the Amazon rainforest.

The Amazon Defense Coalition blasted the oil giant's latest attempt to bully Ecuadorian plaintiffs seeking justice in Amazon:

Chevron is clearly "petrified" of a jury trial against Keker, who is based in San Francisco near the oil giant's headquarters and is widely considered one of America's leading trial lawyers, said Karen Hinton, the spokesperson for the Ecuadorian plaintiffs suing the oil giant. On behalf of Donziger, Keker has locked horns with New York judge Lewis Kaplan, who is presiding over Chevron's racketeering case in federal court, accusing him of trampling Donziger's due process rights and asking that he reassign the case to another judge.

"With its latest court filing, Chevron is admitting that it does not think its lawyers can win a trial before a jury of impartial American citizens who would likely review evidence of the company's reckless and potentially criminal misconduct in Ecuador," said Hinton.

"This is an extraordinary capitulation prompted by Chevron's desire to avoid having to prove its spurious allegations before an impartial jury," she added.

Donziger has repeatedly demanded to the New York court that he wants to exercise his constitutional right to a jury trial to respond to Chevron's "outrageous" allegations in the racketeering case that the environmental lawsuit in Ecuador, on which he has worked for the better part of two decades, is based on sham evidence. In response, Chevron filed papers late Wednesday seeking to drop Donziger from the first phase of the RICO trial that Kaplan scheduled for November of this year.

"Chevron's lawyers make all sorts of defamatory charges against Steven Donziger, and then they run for the hills when it comes time to put up or shut up," said Juan Pablo Saenz, an Ecuadorian lawyer who represents the plaintiffs. In February, after an eight-year trial that generated more than 200,000 pages of evidence, an Ecuador trial court found Chevron liable for dumping billions of gallons of toxic waste into the Amazon, causing an outbreak of cancer and decimating indigenous groups. Damages were found to be up to $18 billion.

You can read the full release here.

Once again if you read between the lines it should become clear by now that now clear that the RICO charges are a ruse. Chevron’s real agenda is to obtain a ruling from U.S. Judge Lewis Kaplan that the recent $9.5 billion Ecuadorian judgment against Chevron is unenforceable. Such a ruling could be used as a litigation tool in what will likely be future court disputes about the judgment’s enforcement. Judge Kaplan has not hidden his bias in Chevron’s favor and his utter distaste for the Ecuadorians and their country.

You can bet that the plaintiffs seeking justice against the corrupt oil giant will not be intimidated by this. We hope you and others reading our blog will speak the truth and join our efforts to seek justice today.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Miami Herald Journalist Proves Chevron Lied About The Remediation

"(Chevron) always show(s) you the shirt the coat and the tie. They never show you the tumor underneath the shirt."
Miami Herald reporter Jim Wyss has caught Chevron in yet another lie about its so-called “remediation” agreement. Wyss toured one of the oil well sites, Sascha 53, that Chevron told both U.S. and Ecuadorian courts had been cleaned.

He described what he saw after a man with him dug just a few inches below the ground in today’s Miami Herald article:
“Within a few inches the dirt gives off the pungent odor of petroleum. Within a few feet the dirt glistens with oil residue. When a few handfuls of the soil are dropped into a bucket of water, a thick oil-slick coats the surface.”
Chevron claims it is not guilty of the contamination in Ecuador because the remediation agreement between Chevron and the Ecuadorian government releases it from any responsibility. However, scientific tests have proven that Chevron has never cleaned up the oil sites mentioned in the agreement.

Today the Amazon Defense Coalition released this press release that argues the reporter’s eye-witness account of the contamination is further evidence that Chevron has lied to U.S. Judge Lewis Kaplan who has, by and large, accepted Chevron’s statement that it remediated a small percentage of the oil sites.

The only response Chevron’s spokesperson could come up with was accusing Ecuadorians of “spiking” the ground with oil themselves.

Wyss quoted Donald Moncayo, a representative of the Ecuadorians, saying:
"They (Chevron) always show you the shirt the coat and the tie," he said of the area, called Sacha 53, which is now pastureland and spindly trees. "They never show you the tumor underneath the shirt."
"This is their remediation effort," Moncayo says. "They're no better than animals."

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Speak Truth & Join Our Conspirators’ Club Today!

The spokesperson for the Ecuadorian plaintiffs warned public interest advocates this week in an oped in the Capitol Hill publication, The Hill, against criticizing powerful interests for their misconduct, as the lawyers, environmentalists and other supporters have done in the 18-year-old litigation against Chevron for oil contamination in the Ecuador rainforest.

Simply speaking the truth might make you a co-conspirator to extortion and racketeering!

The oped, entitled Standing Up To Chevron, reveals how utterly ridiculous Chevron’s extortion and racketeering charges are. Chevron is portraying the plaintiffs and their consultants and supporters as “Mafia thugs” because they have tried to tell the story of Chevron’s criminal behavior in Ecuador to news reporters and elected officials with the hope they will obtain a damage award or a settlement to cleanup the contamination.

Karen Hinton, the spokesperson, wrote:
“I admit we have not been kind to Chevron. We have told our story largely through the news media, including a devastating “60 Minutes” segment. We have written hundreds of critical press releases and blogs. We met with Members of Congress to mitigate Chevron’s lobbying to end U.S. trade preferences with Ecuador, which the company sought in retaliation for our lawsuit. We complained to Attorneys Generals about Chevron’s withholding information to shareholders about potential liabilities. And we alerted Ecuadorian officials to Chevron’s fraudulent cleanup and urged an investigation.

“Fairly basic tactics for public advocacy campaigns. Hardly ripped from the pages of the Godfather series.”

As ludicrous as the charges are, Hinton warned against the ramification of the charges and a U.S. Court’s decision to allow them to be filed.
“The chilling message of (the judge’s) ruling should make many professionals think twice about taking on powerful interests. Public relations executives representing corporations on either side of litigation could be accused of conspiring to drive down stock prices. Lobbyists could be named as racketeers seeking to put a competitor out of business. Issue a critical press release or meet with a public official, and accusations will fly about extorting and shaking down profitable companies.”

Read between the lines and it becomes clear that the extortion charges are a ruse. Chevron’s real agenda is to obtain a ruling from U.S. Judge Lewis Kaplan that the recent $9.5 billion Ecuadorian judgment against Chevron is unenforceable. Such a ruling could be used as a litigation tool in what will likely be future court disputes about the judgment’s enforcement. Judge Kaplan has not hidden his bias in Chevron’s favor and his utter distaste for the Ecuadorians and their country. See recent Chevron Pit blogs here and here. The Southern District Court judge made that very clear when he enjoined the Ecuadorian plaintiffs from enforcing the judgment anywhere in the world, a decision that they steadfastly reject.

Hinton wrote:
“A Chevron lobbyist once remarked about the lawsuit: ‘We can’t let little countries screw around with big companies like this – companies that have made big investments around the world.’
“Hopefully, Chevron's attempt to criminalize public interest advocacy will be thwarted on appeal and "little countries" and their people will have the chance to hold corporations accountable for improper conduct. Meanwhile, if you are in the advocacy field, think twice before you hit the send button on that next blog or press release -- or be prepared to join me in the co-conspirator's club.”

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Chevron Raises CEO John Watson’s Salary As Americans Place Oil Giant In “Least Reputable” Category. Even Watson’s Own Neighbors Don’t Like Him!

News from Chevron: The oil giant has raised CEO John Watson’s salary by 7 percent to $1.6 million. Chevron’s Board may like his performance, but most Americans do not. A survey found that Chevron was one of the least reputable American corporations; it ranked 124 out of 150.

John Watson

And Rainforest Action Network blogger, Linda Capato, discovered that Watson’s own neighbors don’t approve of his practices and policies, especially those in the Ecuadorian rainforest, where Chevron intentionally dumped over 18 billion gallons of toxic sludge into the soil and waterways. Capato wrote about her trip to Watson’s neighborhood.
”We’ve been handing out flyers to residents of Lafayette, CA, which is a relatively small suburban community. Folks here are super nice and really receptive to our message. We’ve felt really welcomed in this tiny hamlet. In fact, just yesterday, we met many of Watson’s close personal friends, most of which responded very openly and warmly to us. One friend of his let us know that she plans on telling him exactly how she feels on the issue, and how wrong she really thinks he is by not taking responsibility for his company’s toxic mess. Once she saw the flyer, she responded by saying, “Yeah, what they’re doing is just wrong, they should take responsibility, and I plan on telling him more.”

An Ecuador court recently awarded the indigenous peoples of the rainforest a $9.5 billion judgment to clean up the contamination, but as The Thin Green Line reports, Chevron is refusing to pay. This means that the Ecuadorian plaintiffs suing Chevron must request a court in another country to enforce the judgment since Chevron has sold all its assets in Ecuador. Meanwhile, Chevron is trying to block enforcement of the judgment in the United States, while continuing to sell its assets in countries that might hold Chevron accountable for its actions. One of the lawyers for the Ecuadorian plaintiffs said in a recent press release:
“While the Ecuadorian Plaintiffs and their counsel may be unable to take any steps to even prepare for enforcement proceedings, (a U.S. court) allows Chevron a generous window of time within which to divest itself of overseas assets that might be used to enforce the Ecuadorian Judgment,” wrote Julio C. Gomez of Gomez LLC and Carlos A. Zelaya, II of F. Gerald Maples PA.”

This is one more example of Chevron’s misconduct in its global massive scheme to avoid taking responsibility for what it did to Ecuador’s rainforest and its people and culture. Spread the word. If more people knew, Chevron would rank 150th, right at the bottom.