As detailed in our video, “Great Moments In Stupid Chevron PR” (view it below), Chevron will say anything to evade its responsibility to clean up its toxic mess in Ecuador. The company has tried just about every dirty trick it could come up with, too.
Chevron’s immediate response to the decision in Ecuador was to have its lawyers file a motion requesting a court order that would stop the plaintiffs from being able to pursue the company’s assets around the world (Chevron no longer has any assets in Ecuador). US Federal Judge Lewis Kaplan denied Chevron’s motion. It was the first time he’s ever made a ruling against Chevron.
This was just one of the abusive legal maneuvers Chevron has attempted, engineered by the company’s outside law firm, Gibson Dunn Crutcher, and the partner at the firm leading the Chevron case, Randy Mastro. Gibson Dunn specializes in cases like Chevron’s:
Gibson Dunn has long advertised itself as the “dream team” for clients in serious trouble. It boasts that lawyers like Mastro, Andrea Neumann, Scott Edelman, and William Thomson are capable of mounting “rescue” operations for corporations facing major liability for environmental and other abuses committed against vulnerable peoples like the indigenous and farmer communities of Ecuador’s Amazon. If the law is in the way of a client’s interests, GDC claims it will work to either change the law or maneuver around it. …
What few know is that Gibson Dunn basically uses carbon copy lawsuits alleging “fraud” against almost any entity that has the temerity to challenge its powerful clients.
To get Chevron out of its mess, Gibson has targeted Ecuadorian lawyer, Pablo Fajardo, who was profiled with great sensitivity in Vanity Fair. Fajardo brilliantly has outmaneuvered Chevron’s high-priced lawyers at almost every turn.
Chevron has a long history of going after anyone who dares side with the Ecuadorean plaintiffs and against Chevron. Another target of Chevron and Gibson Dunn’s vicious retributive legal tactics was Crude director Joe Berlinger. Chevron’s lawyers at Gibson Dunn subpoenaed the outtakes from that film, which is about the Ecuadorean plaintiffs’ struggle to bring Chevron to justice. The New York Times recently wrote a lengthy piece on the financial and emotional toll Chevron’s abusive legal tactics took on Berlinger.
Given its deep pockets, Chevron no doubt assumed it would have worn down the Ecuadorean plaintiffs and simply outlasted their ability to continue fighting for justice. But just in case that didn’t pan out, Chevron has pretty much tried every other dirty trick it could conceive of as well:
- There was the failed attempt to entrap the Ecuadorean judge presiding over the case into taking a bribe, for instance. Even though no bribe ever took place, Chevron still went public with the allegations and claimed that the judge had taken a bribe.
- Evidence recently surfaced confirming that Chevron used a secret lab to hide contaminated soil samples from the Ecuadorean courts. But the evidence of Chevron’s deliberate dumping of 18 billion gallons of toxic oil waste into the Amazon rainforest was still so overwhelming that an Ecuadorean court ordered the company to pay $18 billion to clean it up, a judgment upheld by an appeals court on Jan 3, 2012.
- Chevron deployed at least a dozen lawyers in Ecuador’s capital of Quito this past weekend in a last-ditch effort to prevent the judgment from being taken to other countries where it could potentially be enforced and used to seize Chevron assets.
- In at least one other previous effort, Chevron offered $1 billion to Ecuador’s government in exchange for the case being killed off — an action that would clearly be illegal under Ecuadorean and international law, in addition to being a violation of the legal rights of the plaintiffs.
No attempt to evade its responsibility for cleaning up Ecuador has worked for Chevron. I’m sure the company would appreciate it if you could help suggest a new excuse or two to explain why it still refuses to take responsibility for its environmental and human rights crisis in Ecuador. Here’s a little inspiration: