Chevron's Legacy

Chevron's Legacy
The Pollution Chevron Left Behind...Shushufindi pit 38. Chevron's scientists found no contamination at this pit.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Chevron’s Spies Deposed: Will They Tell The Truth?

Chevron employee Diego Borja and drug felon Wayne Hansen had their 15 minutes of fame over a year ago when Chevron unveiled videos that the two men had made secretly with a spy pen and spy watch. Chevron’s purpose in releasing the videos was to discredit an Ecuadorian judge, whom the oil giant expected to rule against the company in a multi-billion environmental lawsuit. The 007 caper failed but the fallout revealed other “dirty tricks” that Borja had orchestrated in Ecuador as well as Borja’s distrust of Chevron lawyers who he said promised him compensation for the videos. Borja confided to a friend that if Chevron did not pay him he would turn evidence against the company in the lawsuit. Soon the two of them will be under oath and will have to decide whether to tell the truth or take the Fifth.

Chevron Sting Operative Faces Deposition Under Federal Court Order
Judge Orders Wayne Hansen Deposed, Documents Turned Over as Scandal Tainting Oil Giant Widens

Amazon Defense Coalition
26 October 2010 – FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Karen Hinton at 703-798-3109 or Karen@hintoncommunications.com

Fresno, CA (October 26, 2010) – A federal court in California has ordered the deposition of Chevron sting operative Wayne Hansen, the convicted drug trafficker who in 2009 engaged in a “dirty tricks” operation for the oil giant in Ecuador that tried to undermine a trial judge, according to court papers.

Diego Borja, the leader of the sting operation and a longtime Chevron employee in Ecuador, earlier had been ordered deposed by a federal judge after he was caught on tape saying that he “cooked” evidence while working for Chevron during the trial. Borja separately said that he took soil samples away from contaminated oil sites and that Chevron’s laboratory was not independent as required by the court.

A hearing on Borja’s attempt to quash the order is set for November 10 in San Francisco.

"This court ruling is important because Borja and Hansen are at the epicenter of a potentially enormous scandal that could implicate several Chevron officials right through the company’s General Counsel and possibly beyond,” said Karen Hinton, a spokesperson for the Ecuadorians suing Chevron in the South American nation.

The depositions create potential peril for Chevron and its legal team.

Borja and possibly Hansen had extensive contact with Chevron lawyers as they taped four meetings in Ecuador in 2009 that they thought would implicate the trial judge in a bribery scandal, but instead backfired against Chevron, according to Hinton.

“Borja and Hansen participated in an illegal operation designed to interfere in an ongoing trial, ruin a judge’s reputation, and deny tens of thousands of people their day in court,” she added.

Chevron is charged in the lawsuit with illegally discharging billions of gallons of toxic produced water in Ecuador’s rainforest from 1964-1990, creating what experts believe is the world’s worst oil-related catastrophe. The company faces a potential $113 billion liability based on a 200,000-page evidentiary and is desperate to derail the trial before a judgment is reached, according to representatives of the plaintiffs.

The depositions, requested by lawyers for Ecuador’s government, are being ordered under a U.S. law that allows discovery to assist foreign legal proceedings.

Hansen and Borja came to the attention of authorities after Chevron released videotapes made by the pair, claiming they exposed a bribery scheme related to the trial judge. Chevron initially described Hansen and Borja as “Good Samaritans” who were not connected to the company.

Chevron’s story unraveled quickly.

Far from being a “good Samaritan”, an investigation found that Hansen had pled guilty to importing illegal drugs into the United States and had been sentenced to two years in a federal prison. He also had no connection to the remediation industry, as Chevron had claimed. The investigation also found that Borja was a long-time Chevron employee who was intimately involved in the company’s legal defense team in Ecuador, a fact Chevron did not disclose. Click here for more information about Borja and Hansen.

Chevron relocated Borja to the U.S. and paid for well-known criminal defense lawyer Cristina Arguedes to represent him. He was later taped by a childhood friend bragging about the operation. On the tapes, Borja brags that “crime does pay” and that he expected to receive large payments from Chevron.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Chevron Condemned for Contamination in Rainforest by Ecuador Bishop

As Chevron scrambles to defend itself against outrage over its latest ad campaign, a Bishop who lives where Chevron contaminated the Ecuadorian rainforest, has condemned the company for its actions in a letter to the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. Gonzalo Lopez Marañon, Bishop of Seleuciana, called on the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops to inform American Catholics, policy makers and the media about the “plight of our people” resulting from the contamination from “one of the world’s ten biggest corporations.”

Ecuador Bishop Criticizes Chevron for Its Role in World’s Largest Oil-Related Catastrophe
Seeks Assistance of U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops As Humanitarian Crisis Worsens


Amazon Defense Coalition
20 October 2010 – FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Karen Hinton at 703-798-3109 or Karen@hintoncommunications.com

Lago Agrio, Ecuador (October 20, 2010) – In another blow to Chevron’s image, a prominent Bishop who lives in the area of Ecuador where Chevron is embroiled in a multi-billion environmental lawsuit, has strongly criticized the oil giant for harming local residents with toxic contamination, it was learned today.

Gonzalo Lopez Marañon, Bishop of Seleuciana, made the criticism in a letter to the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops sent on “behalf of dozens of indigenous and farmer communities” in Ecuador who live in the area of rainforest where Chevron operated a large oil concession from 1964 to 1990. The full text of the letter can be found here.

Chevron is accused in the lawsuit, brought by 30,000 rainforest residents, of deliberately dumping 18 billion gallons of toxic waste into rivers and streams in the area where the Bishop ministers to farmers and the surviving members of indigenous groups.

In the letter, Bishop Maranon wrote that “thousands of impoverished men, women and children live in an area of 2,000 square miles ravaged by oil pollution. This pollution, and its devastating health effects on our people, is a direct result of decades of oil production by the Texaco oil company [now Chevron] and its policy of storing oil sludge in almost 1,000 open and unlined pits. Over a period of decades, the company also pumped more than 18 billion gallons of toxic water into the Amazon’s rivers.”

The Bishop continued: “Chevron has made clear in official public statements that it accepts no responsibility for the pollution and death caused by Texaco, or the many pollution-connected diseases that continue to afflict our people.”

The letter comes in the wake of a new damages assessment from a team of American technical experts that puts Chevron’s potential liability in the tens of billions of dollars for what is believed to be the world’s largest oil-related disaster. The new assessment attributes a large portion of the damages to thousands of potential cancer deaths, according to court documents filed Sept. 16 by lawyers for the Amazonian communities.

Evidence in the lawsuit demonstrates that the pollution at each of Chevron’s 378 former oil production sites far exceeds Ecuadorian and U.S. norms designed to protect human health. Expert reports and peer-reviewed studies before the court also show that Chevron’s contamination has led to dramatically increased rates of cancer and poisoned an area roughly the size of Rhode Island.

Chevron claims it was given a legal release by the government of Ecuador in 1995, but residents of the affected Amazon communities say the release was obtained fraudulently after a sham clean-up and in any event does not apply to their private claims.

In referring to Chevron’s pollution, the Bishop’s letter stated: “We say, simply, that this must not stand. As the Holy Father recently said in Caritas in Veritatae:
Let us hope that the international community and individual governments will succeed in countering harmful ways of treating the environment. It is likewise incumbent upon the competent authorities to make every effort to ensure that the economic and social costs of using up shared environ mental resources are recognized with transparency and fully borne by those who incur them, not by other peoples or future generations. . . .”

The Bishop said it is his “hope and prayer” that the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops “will devote its great skill and resources to educating American Catholics, governmental policy-makers and the media about the plight of our people and their 17-year pursuit of justice from one of the world’s ten biggest corporations.”

Chevron has been on the receiving end in recent months of several letters critical of its Ecuador pollution problem.

The oil giant’s effort to subpoena video outtakes from independent filmmaker Joe Berlinger -- who made a documentary film about the case -- drew fire from Robert Redford, Bill Moyers, Mikhail Gorbachov, Leonardo DiCaprio, and other well-known artists and political figures.

In July, 15 members of the U.S. Congress wrote Ron Kirk, United States Trade Representative, to express concern about Chevron’s efforts to withhold U.S. trade preferences from Ecuador as retaliation for the lawsuit. Kirk also received a similar letter at the time from The Most Reverend Howard J. Hubbard of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.

Chevron also has been under attack over its Ecuador policy from several U.S.-based environmental groups, including the Sierra Club, Rainforest Action Network, and Amazon Watch.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Chevron Throws Out The “Communities They’re A Part Of” At Shareholders’ Meeting

The Real Ad

This past May, Chevron threw out of its shareholders’ meeting in Houston 20 people who had traveled from Nigeria, Burma, the Philippines, Angola and Ecuador — all places where Chevron has explored for oil and where, according to its new ad campaign, the oil giant should “support the communities they’re a part of.”

Allowing 20 foreigners with legitimate proxies into the shareholder meeting apparently was not the kind of “support” Chevron means in its new $90 million ad campaign that purports to highlight its commitment to the environment and good corporate citizenry but has been met with damning ridicule from dozens of environmental groups and bloggers pointing out the hypocrisy behind the advertisements.


The Fake Ad

Paul Tullis, an environmental writer, posted a blog on change.org that included this comment: “You may remember Chevron's "People Do" ad campaign from awhile back, in which the oil giant tried to convince us that environmental concerns were at the top of its agenda—even as it polluted the air, soil and water. Well, it looks like they're up to their old tricks.”

And, if the criticism from the environmental community wasn’t bad enough, the Yes Men prank with its fake press releases surely made Chevron wonder if its $90 million could have been put “To Good Use” elsewhere. See this New York Times article about the prank.

October 18, 2010, 3:38 PM
Pranksters Lampoon Chevron Ad Campaign
By STUART ELLIOTT
NY Times
Updated at 3:50 p.m.

Chevron is scrambling to deal with an elaborate lampoon of a major advertising campaign that the company introduced on Monday.

An environmental organization, the Rainforest Action Network, sent an e-mail on Monday afternoon claiming credit for the spoof, along with Amazon Watch and the Yes Men.

Chevron announced the campaign to reporters on Monday morning in e-mails, which were sent after the publication of an article about the ads in the Monday editions of The Wall Street Journal. There was also a news release about the campaign posted to a section of the Chevron Web site.

The campaign, by McGarryBowen in New York, carries the theme “We agree.” The ads seek to address critics of energy companies by affirming statements like “Oil companies should support the communities they’re part of” and “Oil companies should put their profits to good use.” A section of the Chevron Web site is also devoted to the campaign.

However, hours before the e-mails were sent, e-mails designed to resemble Chevron corporate missives also went out. They cited a different Web address, chevron-weagree.com , and included a link to what seemed to be an authentic news release on the official Chevron site.

The spoof news release carries the headline “Radical Chevron Ad Campaign Highlights Victims,” compared with the actual Chevron news release headline, “Chevron Launches New Global Advertising Campaign: ‘We Agree.’”

The spoof news release echoed language from the actual news release and included concocted quotations from actual Chevron executives. The main difference between the lampoon and the real was that the fake release described the ads as addressing environmental issues in which Chevron is embroiled, including a dispute in Ecuador over oil pollution; the real ads do not directly address those matters.

At least one news outlet, the Web site of Fast Company magazine, was fooled by the prank.

The fake e-mail was followed by another, purporting to reproduce a news release that Chevron supposedly posted on the Business Wire service. It described how “a group of environmentalists cyber-posing as Chevron officials illegally spoofed Chevron’s just-launched ‘We Agree’ advertising campaign, confusing reporters.”

The second fake release, like the first, also attributed made-up quotes to real Chevron executives.

Morgan Crinklaw, a spokesman for Chevron in San Ramon, Calif., said the company was “taking down the Web sites that purport to be Chevron’s.”

“We expected something like this would be done,” he said in a phone interview on Monday afternoon, because “there are activist groups whose sole focus is attacking Chevron and not engaging in rational conversations on energy issues.”

Mr. Crinklaw also forwarded by e-mail a statement from Chevron that called the lampoon “rhetoric and stunts” and condemned the “fake press release” and “counterfeit Web site, which are not affiliated with Chevron.”

The e-mail asked reporters to contact the company “to ensure the accuracy of the information they have received” about the campaign.

Asked who might have been behind the spoof, Mr. Crinklaw replied: “I don’t want to speculate. I don’t know the answer.”

The e-mail from the Rainforest Action Network described the hoax as a “satirical counter-campaign.”

“When it comes to oil spills, climate change and human rights abuses, we need real action from Chevron,” said the e-mail. “Instead, the oil giant has prioritized a high-priced glossy advertising campaign that attempts to trick the American people into believing it is different than BP.”

Fast Company, in updating the article on its Web site, said that the pranksters known as the Yes Men were behind the hoax. The Yes Men are known for mocking big business and what they perceive to be corporate misdeeds.

Some environmental organizations welcomed the lampoon, whatever its provenance.

“The spoof is a direct consequence of Chevron’s trying to fool people into thinking it is an environmentally conscious when the company is responsible for the extensive contamination found in Ecuador’s rain forest and in other places as well,” Karen Hinton, a spokeswoman for the Ecuadorian plaintiffs suing Chevron, said in an e-mail on Monday afternoon.

Earlier, before the spoof became widely known, Ms. Hinton sent an e-mail in which the plaintiffs criticized the actual Chevron campaign as “greenwashing.”

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Chevron Using Ad Campaign to Cover-up Ecuador Environmental Disaster

In the face of an pending potential multi-billion liability in Ecuador for illegally dumping billions of gallons of toxic waste directly into the Ecuadorian rainforest, Chevron has unveiled a new ad campaign titled "We Agree." The advertising campaign – a slick, multi-million dollar investment in image management by the company, seeks to trumpet all that the company is doing to "do the right thing" as a community member and environmental steward. However, the company – while plunging millions of dollars into advertising, lobbying, and legal fees – has done nothing to cleanup the actual damage caused by its substandard oil drilling operations in Ecuador. Instead, the company is fighting to undermine the courts after hundreds of thousands of pages of evidence have established a mountain of evidence that the company has contaminated an area of Ecuador the size of Rhode Island. For more information take a look at the press release below from the Amazon Defense Coalition:

Chevron's Misleading Ad Campaign Ignores Toxic Legacy in Ecuador Rainforest

New Video Provides Devastating Proof of Chevron Toxic Pits in Ecuador

WASHINGTON--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Chevron's abandonment of hundreds of toxic waste pits in Ecuador is being highlighted in a new video by the environmental group Amazon Watch as leaders of indigenous groups from that country blasted the oil giant for launching a misleading advertising campaign designed to cover up its massive environmental liabilities.

"The reality is that Chevron has devastated dozens of indigenous and farmer communities in Ecuador"

The video, which can be seen on www.chevrontoxico.com, shows the devastating effects of the pits Chevron gouged out of the jungle floor decades ago and outfitted with gooseneck pipes to drain waste into streams that thousands of indigenous inhabitants relied on for their drinking water.

In the 1970s and 1980s, Chevron built and abandoned an estimated 916 of the pits in a 2,000-square mile area of Ecuador's rainforest; none of them have been properly remediated, and most still leech cancer-causing toxins into groundwater, streams, and soils, according to the video.

The exact number of Chevron's abandoned waste pits is unknown because Chevron never kept a log of the locations of each pit, according to a report on the contamination aired by 60 Minutes.

Several peer-reviewed health evaluations have found elevated rates of cancer in the area where Chevron operated, and one American expert recently submitted a report
concluding that up to 10,000 faced a significant risk of contracting cancer in the coming decades because of the pollution.

The Amazon Watch video highlights a waste pit at Aguarico 4, one of 356 well sites that Texaco (now Chevron) operated in Ecuador when it ran an oil concession from 1964 to 1990.

Chevron is now a defendant in a multi-billion lawsuit in Ecuador that alleges it deliberately discharged more than 18 billion gallons of toxic "formation water" into rivers and streams, causing the worst oil-related contamination on earth. The plaintiffs have estimated damages at higher than $100 billion.

In the meantime, Chevron's new ad campaign was blasted by leaders of the Amazonian communities suing the oil giant. The Wall Street Journal showed a picture of one ad, which said "Oil Companies Should Support the Communities They're A Part Of". It then said, "We Agree."

Leaders of the affected communities in Ecuador said they considered the campaign "green washing" and asked that Chevron remove the ads from circulation.

"The reality is that Chevron has devastated dozens of indigenous and farmer communities in Ecuador," said Luis Yanza, an Ecuadorian who coordinates the case against Chevron. "Chevron saying it cares about communities is certainly not our experience here in Ecuador, where people are hurting because of the company's operations."

Chevron is certainly spending far more on the ad campaign than it ever spent on remediating its toxic waste pits in Ecuador, said Yanza.

"The company's brand would improve more by doing an actual clean-up rather than acting like it cares when it doesn't," he added.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Expert: Chevron Responsible for 10,000 People at Risk of Cancer

A new expert analysis has estimated that some 10,000 residents of the Ecuadorian Amazon face a sharply increased risk of contracting cancer in the coming decades due to heightened exposure to oil waste due to Chevron's substandard oil-extraction operation in that region from 1964-1990. This expert analysis, filed in the Ecuadorian court hearing a landmark legal case alleging that Chevron should pay to remediate the damage caused by more than 25 years of oil drilling, demonstrates that Chevron's refusal to clean-up its mess has created a critical human health catastrophe. For more information take a look a the press release below from the Amazon Defense Coalition:

Chevron's Ecuador Cancer Problem: 10,000 People at Risk of Contracting Disease in Coming Decades, Says Expert

Oil Giant Faces Up to $69 Billion in Liability for Potential Cancer Deaths

QUITO, Ecuador--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Almost 10,000 people in Ecuador face a significant risk of contracting cancer in the coming decades due to Chevron's refusal to clean up the billions of gallons of oil waste it dumped into the rain forest, a leading American expert has reported to the Ecuador court where Chevron is a defendant in a multi-billion dollar environmental trial.

The cancer assessment was presented on September 16 to the Superior Court of Nueva Loja in Lago Agrio, Ecuador, where Chevron is charged with dumping more than 18 billion gallons of toxic "water of formation" directly into the rainforest. The company also faces a potential $69 billion liability for the cancer deaths, an amount that accounts for slightly less than half of the top end of the plaintiff's assessment of total damages, estimated at $113 billion.

Dr. Daniel Rourke, a prominent American statistician formerly associated with the RAND Corporation, has concluded that 9,950 people living in the rainforest region in Ecuador where Chevron operated face a significant risk of contracting cancer in the coming decades. The number could spike higher as Dr. Rourke's analysis assumes a clean-up of the contaminated area will begin immediately and be completed in ten years – something that Chevron has thus far rejected out of hand.

"This study demonstrates that Chevron has created a critical human health catastrophe in Ecuador that puts thousands of people at risk of death," said Luis Yanza, who coordinates the legal case against Chevron for approximately 80 rainforest indigenous and farmer communities impacted by the oil giant's operations.

"As it is, hardly a day goes by where we don't receive a report of another cancer death in the area where Chevron operated," he said.

Chevron, which operated several oil fields in the Amazon from 1964 to 1990, is being sued by 30,000 rain forest residents for clean-up costs. The trial is taking place in Ecuador at Chevron's request after it was moved from U.S. federal court in 2002.

Several experts believe the damage caused by Chevron in Ecuador dwarfs the harm generated by the BP Gulf spill, and is probably the world's largest oil-related disaster. The contamination covers an area the size of Rhode Island and will take at least a decade to remediate once funds are in place, according to experts.

The human health problem in the area where Chevron operated is exacerbated by the fact the local population lives in close proximity to the hundreds of oil wells and waste pits that Chevron left behind when it departed Ecuador in 1992. Chevron never warned local residents of the dangers of exposure to the contamination and never fenced off any of its 916 toxic waste pits, which are considered hazardous.

Dr. Rourke's report uses actuarial life-table methodology to estimate the number of lives at risk of cancer as a result of exposure to the oil contamination.

The report utilizes Ecuadorian census data to estimate the population of the region, adjusted for growth rate since the oil operations began in 1964. The value of each excess cancer death was estimated at $7 million, a figure based on an average from the U.S. tort system and an economic concept of the "value of a statistical life" as employed by the US Environmental Protection Agency.

Several peer-reviewed health evaluations had previously found that cancer rates in the region where Chevron operated were dramatically higher than in the rest of Ecuador. These reports can be found here <http://chevrontoxico.com/tags.html?tags=health+studies>.

When Chevron published a full-page ad in Ecuadorian newspapers attacking the health studies, more than 50 eminent scientists signed a letter <http://chevrontoxico.com/news-and-multimedia/2005/0406-letter-arguing-that-chevron-misleads-about-health-impacts.html> published in the prestigious International Journal of Occupational and Environmental Health defending the methods used to conduct the health evaluations and criticizing Chevron's efforts to undermine the studies' findings.

Chevron's own damages report, also submitted to the court on Sept. 16, found that the company had no liability and that the oil contamination from its former oil fields poses no harm to human health.

Chevron has been hit hard in the Ecuador trial in recent days.

The company's primary American technical expert in Ecuador, John Conner, suffered a major blow to his credibility when it was reported that he testified in Mississippi that the oil giant had never harmed even a single person in his two decades working as a consultant for the company. Conner also admitted that Chevron had paid his company $8 million in consulting fees, with up to $5 million coming from his work on the Ecuador matter.

After hearing Conner's testimony in Mississippi, a jury delivered a $19 million judgment against Chevron on behalf of five plaintiffs who suffered cognitive injuries from exposure to the company's leaking underground gas tanks.

True to form, in the dozens of expert reports Chevron submitted to the Ecuador court under Conner's supervision, not one has concluded that Chevron's operational practices in the South American nation had harmed even a single person.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Chevron Ecuador Scientific Expert Suffers Blow to Credibility

Chevron's lead expert in its massive Ecuador environmental trial suffered an embarrassing blow to his credibility earlier this year, putting the credibility of his scientific work in Ecuador further into question. The expert, named John Connor, testified in a Mississippi case against the oil giant that Chevron could not have been responsible for any damage in that case. In fact, Connor testified that in 20 years of testifying in lawsuits on behalf of the company, he knew of no circumstance where "there were any injuries of individuals that were the responsibility of Chevron or Texaco." Well, after opposing lawyers exposed that Connor's scientific opinions were flatly wrong, and the result of clear error, it apparently became clear to the jury that Connor's credibility was very much in question – they awarded the plaintiffs $19 million in damages from Chevron.

This series of events is important because it illustrates the lack of credibility that Chevron's scientific experts have. The same man who testified that Chevron has never been responsible for any injuries to anyone is the same "expert" telling Ecuadorian courts that the billions of gallons of toxic produced water that Chevron admits to dumping directly into the Ecuadorian rainforest is having no impact on the environment or on the people living in the area. Take a look at the below press release from the Amazon Defense Coalition for more information:

Chevron's Lead Ecuador Expert Suffers Major Blow to Credibility in U.S. Trial, Court Documents Say

Chevron Hit With $19 Million Judgment After Jury Rejects John Connor's Testimony

NEW YORK--(BUSINESS WIRE)--John Connor, Chevron's lead American expert in its multi-billion dollar Ecuador environmental trial, suffered a major blow to his credibility when a U.S. jury rejected his testimony and delivered a $19 million judgment against the oil giant for causing mental retardation to several Mississippi residents exposed to its leaking gas tanks, according to court papers provided this week by lawyers on the case.

In the trial -- which took place in Jefferson County, Mississippi -- Connor conceded on cross-examination that over almost two decades of work for Chevron he has never once concluded that the impact of his client's operations has harmed even a single person, according to the court documents. Connor testified that he knew of no circumstance where "there were any injuries of individuals that were the responsibility of Chevron or Texaco."

Connor also tried to exonerate Chevron by testifying that any contamination must have been caused by leaks from three storage tanks owned by a smaller company in the area, not the larger tanks owned by Chevron. But when confronted on cross-examination by evidence that he had misidentified the site from a state database, Connor admitted that he had never taken any steps to definitively verify that the gas tanks actually existed on the smaller company's property.

The clear bias in Connor's testimony and errors in his analysis apparently shocked the Mississippi jury, which rejected his argument that Chevron had no responsibility for the cognitive deficiencies of the five plaintiffs. The jury awarded the plaintiffs $19 million in damages, said Ed Flechas, the lead lawyer on the case who made the court documents available. Chevron is appealing the decision.

"John Connor has virtually no credibility as an expert scientist given his numerous errors and dismal performance in the Mississippi trial," said Flechas, whose clients suffered severe physical and mental retardation.

Relevant excerpts from Connor's testimony in the trial, which took place in early April, can be found here.

Also in his Mississippi testimony, Connor admitted that he has been paid "at least" $8 million by Chevron for his work and that as much as $5 million of that amount derived from the Ecuador case, according to the documents.

Chevron is charged in Ecuador with the illegal dumping of billions of gallons of toxic waste directly into the rainforest from 1964-1990, polluting an area the size of Rhode Island and creating what some experts believe is the world's worst oil-related catastrophe. Cancer rates in the area of Ecuador where Chevron operated have skyrocketed and six indigenous groups have seen their traditional lifestyles decimated, according to evidence submitted to the court by the plaintiffs.

Connor's testimony in the Mississippi case could play a significant role in the Ecuador matter, where the stakes for Chevron are considerably higher and where the company's defense rests largely on Connor's credibility. A new damages report prepared by a team of prominent American experts and submitted by the plaintiffs on Sept. 16 found Chevron's clean-up costs could rise to $113 billion; a large portion of that amount is compensation for up to 10,000 cancer deaths predicted in the coming decades if there is no immediate clean-up.

Connor continues to play a critical role for Chevron in the Ecuador trial, helping to coordinate the submission of numerous expert reports assessing environmental impact at dozens of Chevron's oil production facilities that are the subject of the litigation. All of the reports submitted by Connor in the Ecuador trial found the company was not responsible for any harm despite scientific evidence from the parties and multiple third-party sources that the company's former sites remain extensively contaminated.

In his Ecuador reports, Connor has tried to blame any contamination in Chevron's concession area on Petroecuador, Ecuador's state-owned oil company that took over Chevron's operations in 1992. This tactic is similar to Connor trying to blame the smaller company in the Mississippi case, said Pablo Fajardo, the lead lawyer for the Ecuadorian plaintiffs.

In one report submitted to the Ecuador court in September, Connor found that Chevron's operations in Ecuador were "consistent with applicable regulations and prevailing practices" from 1972-1990, when it operated the oil fields; that Chevron's remediation in the mid-1990s was "completed in accordance with applicable specifications" even though evidence from both Chevron and the plaintiffs indicates the remediated sites are still contaminated; and, that any remaining contamination from Chevron's activities "pose no measurable risk to human health."

Connor's reports stand in stark contrast to the findings of numerous court experts and independent scientists. To date, more than 64,000 scientific sampling results and more than 200,000 pages of trial record demonstrate that 100% of Chevron's former oil production sites are extensively contaminated, including those that the company claimed to have "remediated" in exchange for a limited release from the government.

Further, peer-reviewed health evaluations have found elevated rates of birth defects, spontaneous abortions, and cancers in the area of Ecuador where Chevron operated.

Lawyers for the Ecuadorians have long alleged that Connor's scientific work in Ecuador is virtually worthless.

"John Connor gets paid by Chevron to use all sorts of trickery to produce conclusions that benefit the company," said Pablo Fajardo, the lead Ecuadorian lawyer for the plaintiffs. "Maybe that is the reason why Chevron has said it expects to lose the trial."

More information about the "Junk Science" Chevron's experts have deployed in Ecuador is available here: http://chevrontoxico.com/news-and-multimedia/2010/0429-chevron-lawyers-commit-fraud-to-undercount-oil-contamination.html

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Chevron's Ecuador Protestors Target U.S. Service Station

Chevron's destruction of the rainforest in Ecuador, and it's refusal to clean up the mess it left in the area, attracted headlines today when dozens of protesters targeted Chevron service stations across the bay area. The company is facing a huge potential legal liability in Ecuador for illegally dumping (by the company's own admission) billions of gallons of toxic "produced water" and other contaminants directly into the Ecuadorian rainforest from 1964-1990.

More information about the protests after the jump and below:

Protesters Stage Mock Cleanup At Chevron Station - News Story - KTVU San Francisco

Protesters Stage Mock Cleanup At Chevron Station

Protesters on Sunday staged a mock clean up at a Chevron service station to increase awareness of the oil company's alleged intentional dumping of toxic waste in the Ecuadorian Amazon.

Rainforest Action Network coordinated protests at 10 Chevron stations in the city as part of a global action day for climate solutions, Change Chevron Campaign director Maria Ramos said. About 20 protesters converged at noon at the gas station located at 1298 Howard St.

Texaco, which is now owned by Chevron, across several decades intentionally dumped 18 billion gallons of oil sludge into the Amazon rainforest in northern Ecuador, Ramos said. The sludge contaminated rivers and streams used by indigenous people for drinking water and fishing, Ramos said.

About 30,000 indigenous people have been affected, Ramos said, adding that thousands of people in the area have reported contracting cancer. A $27 billion lawsuit against Chevron for the alleged dumping in Ecuador has been in litigation for 17 years, Ramos added.

"They're doing everything they can to avoid taking responsibility for that," Ramos said.In California, Chevron opposes the Global Warming Solutions Act that established goals for the year 2020 for reducing greenhouse gas emissions, Ramos said.

Protesters hung large white banners from the station's fuel price sign on the corner of Howard and Ninth streets that called for Chevron to clean up in Ecuador. Many in the group wore white protective suits and danced around while mopping the pavement near gas pumps and scrubbing Chevron signs with soapy sponges.

The protests are a call for Chevron to clean up their "toxic legacy," Ramos said.

Amy Baker, who was putting gas in her car a few pumps away, commended the protesters for bringing attention to Chevron's alleged actions.

"Everybody who drives a car, we all are part of this," said Baker, of San Bruno. "I'm getting gas anyway. I need gas. I'm going to drive where I'm going to drive but I think the oil companies should take responsibility for when they screw up."

"I'm glad these people are out here and I'm glad to have gas," Baker said. "I would not otherwise have known about it so I'm glad that they're doing this."

Ramos said the campaign includes providing literature to Chevron station managers about the company's actions. Rainforest Action Network has "been in touch" with Chevron at the corporate level, Ramos said.

The manager on duty Sunday at the Chevron station said she asked the protesters to leave and was told by a participant that the group "was almost done." The manager declined to provide her name.

Chevron Suffers Court Setback In Attack On Ecuador Lawyer

Judge Tosses Chevron's Malicious Prosecution Case Against Lawyer

Kate Moser
The Recorder

October 11, 2010

Chevron Corp. struck out again Friday in its malicious prosecution suit against a Massachusetts lawyer.

In May, U.S. District Judge Claudia Wilken threw out eight of nine claims but gave the energy giant another chance to show that Cristobal Bonifaz had knowingly sued the company with false claims.

But Wilken saw no new evidence to indicate that Bonifaz knew an Ecuadorean client wasn't sick and yet pursued a claim on her behalf against Chevron anyway.

"To conclude that the equivocal medical evidence Chevron cites obviated probable cause would elevate the lenient probable cause standard, have a chilling effect on attorneys and litigants prosecuting arguably meritorious actions that involve medical evidence and encourage prevailing defendants to file malicious prosecution suits," Wilken wrote in her order granting Bonifaz's anti-SLAPP motion.

Chevron's suit stemmed from an action Bonifaz brought in 2006 on behalf of nine Ecuadoreans against the energy giant and two of its subsidiaries. The plaintiffs alleged the company's oil exploration and production in Ecuador had made them sick.

The plaintiffs didn't prevail, and Chevron sued Bonifaz in November. The company sought $4 million in special damages.

Chevron's attorney is Scott Edelman, a partner in the Los Angeles office of Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher.

A Chevron spokesman said Friday that the company "respectfully disagrees with Judge Wilken's conclusion that Bonifaz should not also be held liable for the damage his misconduct caused, and the company is evaluating its options for further review of the case."

Wilken also turned down Chevron's bid to get her to reconsider her May order.

Bonifaz, a semi-retired attorney who operates his solo practice from a barn in rural Massachusetts, is represented by Jacqueline Scott Corley, a partner at San Francisco's Kerr & Wagstaffe.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Federal Judges Beginning To Question Chevron Legal Strategy In Ecuadorian Lawsuit

Amazon Defense Coalition
7 October 2010 – FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Karen Hinton at 703-798-3109 or karen@hintoncommunications.com


New York, New York -- Federal courts are beginning to raise questions regarding Chevron’s efforts to use the U.S. legal system in service of an effort by the oil giant to derail a potential multi-billion dollar environmental lawsuit in Ecuador, according to a review of several U.S. federal court decisions.

In court orders stretching across various federal jurisdictions, federal judges and magistrates have suggested that Chevron’s litigation tactics are “spiraling out of control;” that the company is “making a mountain out of molehill;” that the company is trying to “use” federal courts to retry its case in Ecuador; and, that Chevron wanted the case tried in Ecuador when the government was “in the pockets of oil companies” but now wants it back in the U.S. because it no longer can exercise political influence over Ecuador's courts.

Chevron has filed discovery lawsuits against 23 persons in the United States (including two lawyers) associated with the case in Ecuador. Most of the discovery sought by Chevron concerns materials prepared by consulting experts and provided to a court-appointed expert, Richard Cabrera who adopted some of the materials pursuant to various court orders in Ecuador. Chevron chose to boycott working with Cabrera but did provide materials to a variety of other experts.

Prof. Cabrera’s report eventually found that the evidence presented at court overwhelmingly indicates that Chevron was responsible for the contamination of a swath of rainforest the size of Rhode Island by illegally dumping oil-related waste from 1964-1990. Cabrera estimated that the company may face as much a potential liability of as much as $27.3 billion to remediate the damage.

The lawsuit against Chevron was originally filed in the U.S. in 1993. In 2002, after Chevron filed 14 sworn affidavits praising Ecuador’s judiciary as unbiased and fair, the case was dismissed out of U.S. court and was transferred to Ecuador, where it was refilled in 2003.

Plaintiffs have charged Chevron’s discovery efforts are a misrepresentation of the trial record in Ecuador and nothing more than a sideshow designed to distract attention from the voluminous scientific evidence before the Ecuador court that points to its culpability.

A summary of the some of the questions raised by some of the judicial officers overseeing Chevron’s U.S. lawsuits:

• Judge Fortunato P. Benevides, a member of the Fifth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, said that Chevron used “hyperbole” and was “throw(ing) these words like massive fraud” in its allegations that the plaintiffs “colluded” with a court-appointed expert.

• Judge Benevides said that “in the system that they (Ecuadorians) have, they have an inquisitorial system, and they gather evidence. They--they gather evidence from different folks. I mean, that’s just the way they operate, and then they--then they make their report, and the Court either adopts it or doesn’t. It’s not--it’s not the--it’s not the system—oral system that we have in the United States. I mean, the fact that things were turned over to [a court expert] doesn’t bother me at all. I think the question is was he supposed to report the documents...that he referred to…because he’s supposed to be independent, and--and--and you’re not entitled-- you’re not entitled…not to have him talk to people he wants to or gather information that you don’t want him to get, but you are en-, it sounds like, you’re entitled to know, under the Ecuadorian order, what he referred to. …. That’s all you’ve got. I mean, you can throw these words about massive fraud and, uh, all this hyperbole, but that’s--that’s what this case is about….. you’re making a mountain out of a molehill. This is a very simple case. Either Cabrera’s being honest when he doesn’t provide (consultant) materials as a source for his report, or he’s not being honest about that, and that’s just--that’s--that’s it.”

• Judge Benevides emphasized that the company’s stated purpose of its discovery lawsuits has been met and is before the Ecuadorian court to determine any misconduct.

• Judge Benevides said: “Well, if you’ve already shown that--wait a minute, if you’ve already shown that, why--and--and if what you’re saying is true, then you’ve already got what you want to get to the Ecuadorian Court; that there’s a, uh, that there’s already been, uh, a fraud perpetrated on the Ecuadorian Court, haven’t you, I mean, uh, how can you say that you’ve already got Cabrera’s line? That’s what you’re trying to--to--to develop by this evidence, right?.....And if you’ve already proved it, you don’t need it, do you?”

• Magistrate Judge Joe B. Brown said that what should be a limited proceeding is quickly “spiraling out of control.” Judge Brown ruled that the oil giant cannot “use” the U.S. federal court “to try a dispute that is pending in a foreign proceeding.”

• Judge Brown wrote that the discovery proceeding initiated by Chevron “is not an opportunity to put on a full trial” and ruled that “Chevron is not entitled to pierce the work-product protection…because it has not shown the ‘exceptional circumstances’ required” by the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure.
• Judge Brown noted "The case against Chevron is being heard in Ecuador at the request of the company after 30,000 Ecuadorians originally filed suit in U.S. federal court in 1993.“Chevron had the opportunity to litigate this matter in the United States and strongly opposed jurisdiction in favor of litigating in the Ecuadorian courts. While fraud on any court is a serious accusation that must be investigated, it is not within the power of this court to do so, any more than a court in Ecuador should be used to investigate fraud on this court.”

• In an appeal to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, Judge Gerard E. Lynch referenced Chevron’s allegations that Ecuador’s judiciary is unfair or biased, saying “Well yes, you you…like the Ecuadorian Court when they were in the pockets of the oil companies and you don’t like them now that they’re in the pocket of a populist regime that doesn’t like your oil companies.”

• U.S. District Judge Marcia Crone asked a Chevron lawyer about the company’s effort to have the case transferred to Ecuador: “Weren’t you trying to circumvent the procedures of the Ecuadorian Court?....You’re not getting what you want there, so now you come to the United States and--where there’s more liberal discovery allowed perhaps than in Ecuador, and I--and I think that you, in the first place got a forum non conveniens dismissal from - - in the United States in favor of having procedures in Ecuador, and now maybe this is kind of what you bargained for.”

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Chevron Hit Hard In Sworn Testimony Over Massive Ecuador Liability

Gibson Dunn Lawyer Flies Into Panic As American Expert Provides Devastating Evidence

Amazon Defense Coalition
6 October 2010 – FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Karen Hinton at 703-798-3109 or Karen@hintoncommunications.com


Denver, CO – One of Chevron’s lawyers at the law firm of Gibson Dunn & Crutcher flew into a panic during a recent deposition when an American consulting expert began to testify about the massive quantities of toxins dumped by the oil giant in Ecuador, where Chevron faces a multi-billion dollar legal liability, according to court papers filed recently.

Chevron is being sued by more than 30,000 residents for illegally dumping billions of gallons of toxic contaminants, poisoning an area of the Ecuadorian rainforest the size of Rhode Island and creating what is believed to be the world’s largest oil-related disaster. The lawsuit, originally filed in U.S. federal court in 1993, was moved to Ecuador at Chevron’s request in 2002. The plaintiffs recently submitted a damages assessment against Chevron of up to $113 billion in part to cover the costs of cleanup at 916 sites and compensation for an estimated 10,000 cancer deaths.

Faced with overwhelming scientific evidence of the contamination in Ecuador, Chevron recently returned to U.S. courts to seek discovery of 23 Americans associated with the case. This led to the deposition in San Diego on Sept. 10 of the American consulting expert, William Powers. `

In a legal brief filed on Sept. 28, lawyers for the Ecuadorian communities recount how Chevron lawyer Andrea Neuman – charged with trying to “rescue” Chevron from its massive Ecuador liability -- clearly panicked when Powers tried to testify about the oil giant’s responsibility for the contamination.

After Powers had been deposed for several hours by Chevron, a lawyer for the Amazonian communities suing Chevron indicated that he had some additional questions. Powers is considered a leading authority on oil field contamination and had visited the sites of Chevron’s operations in Ecuador on various occasions.

The mere suggestion that Powers might be cross-examined “set off a panic among Chevron’s counsel,” according to the brief of the Amazonian communities. No wonder – when Powers finally was able to speak, he testified that Chevron’s practices in Ecuador caused an environmental disaster that was at least 30 times larger than the crude discharged in the Exxon Valdez spill in Alaska.

To avoid this damaging testimony, Neuman went to great lengths to shut down the questioning.

“First, Ms. Neuman claimed that the “office is closing” and therefore Mr. Wilson could not cross-examine Mr. Powers,” according to the brief filed by the plaintiffs.

Neuman then stated the questioning could not go forward because Chevron was not “notified” that it would happen – a remarkable assertion given that it is standard for depositions to conclude with a cross-examination.

Neuman then claimed the cameraman taking video of the deposition “has to pack up”. When that didn’t work, a Gibson Dunn colleague claimed they only had “five minutes” to listen to questions.

Finally, Neuman claimed that Mr. Wilson – who is from New York and is a partner in the firm of Emery, Celli, Brinckerhoff & Abady -- could not ask questions because he was not admitted to the bar in California despite the fact the Gibson Dunn lawyers had agreed to his participation earlier in the day.

“Notwithstanding this obstreperous conduct, and Chevron’s blatant attempt to hide the truth, Mr. Wilson insisted on fifteen minutes of cross-examination, during which the building did not shut down, the office did not close, the cameraman did not have to pack up, and no one had to leave the building,” the lawyers wrote in the brief.

Not surprisingly, the testimony from Powers was devastating for Chevron. Here are some highlights, with the questions being asked by Mr. Wilson:

Q: Now, when Chevron-Texaco designed its pits in the Ecuadorian Amazon, what design did it use?
Powers: Dug a hole in the dirt and deposited the drilling muds in the unlined hole.

Q: And if Chevron-Texaco was designing those pits in the United States, would it have been able to dig a pit in the -- and put in the drilling muds as you described?
Powers: No.

Q: What’s the consequence of Chevron’s design of its pits in the Lago Agrio concession?
Powers: Two consequences: the leeching of the chemicals into the ground, and ultimately into the ground water; and the overflow of the pits due to lack of maintenance and rain water and overflowing directly into the drainage channels surrounding that pit.

Q: And what’s the basis for your conclusions concerning the Chevron-Texaco’s pits?
Powers: Having viewed the pits and reviewed the nature of how those pits were designed, utilized, and the fact that -- it is uncontested that the pits were left with drilling mud in them.

Q: And when Chevron developed the oil field in Ecuador, did it do so in conformity with standards for treatment of production water that were in place in the United States at the time that it was building its infrastructure in Ecuador?
Powers: No.

Q: Can you describe the ways in which Chevron’s Ecuadorian concession fell below standards it would have been required to meet if that field were in the United States?:
Powers: Based on the salinity and the produced water from the field, the company would have been required to reinject that water into a subsurface formation. Could not have operated that oil field or produced a single barrel of oil without having that produced water injection system operational.

Q: By failing to reinject production water in the Lago Agrio concession, what impact did that have on the environment in Lago Agrio?
Powers: It contaminated the surface water at the points where it was injected, not only with the high salinity of the produced water in an environment that has almost no natural salinity, but the trace contaminants of heavy metals and oil also contributed to the generalized contamination of that surface water.

Q: If you include the produced water in your comparison between the discharge into the environment from Chevron’s Lago Agrio concession, when you compare that to the Exxon-Valdez oil discharge from that catastrophe, how would you compare them?
Powers: Both the produced water and the crude oil are toxic. The -- you can argue about the relative toxicity of them both. But the amount of toxic liquids that should not have been in the environment in Ecuador was at least 30 times the quantity or the volume of crude that was spilled in the Exxon-Valdez disaster.

Gibson Dunn boasts on its website that its litigators in the Ecuador case – led by Neuman and Scott Edelman – are "Game Changers"; the firm cites a legal publication that "clients in deep trouble turn to Gibson Dunn for fresh, aggressive thinking and innovative rescues."

“Given Andrea Neuman’s conduct, Gibson Dunn’s ‘rescue’ operation for Chevron apparently doesn’t include acknowledging the truth about the reckless conduct of its client in Ecuador,” said Karen Hinton, a spokesperson for the Amazonian communities.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Chevron Should Pay for Its Pollution in Ecuador

The arch-conservative Wall Street Journal editorial page blasted the Ecuadorians’ lawsuit for the third time recently. Some things in life are so predictable. Below is the letter to the editor in response.

Chevron Should Pay for Its Pollution in Ecuador

Your editorial "Shakedown in the Rain Forest" (Sept. 23) on Chevron's multibillion-dollar liability in Ecuador is the third time in recent years that you have attacked this important litigation. Contrary to what you claim, scientific evidence from experts demonstrates that Chevron has been contaminating an area in Ecuador the size of Rhode Island and taking advantage of indigenous groups for decades. Now Chevron is trying to sabotage a seven-year trial to evade accountability.

Rather than deal with the overwhelming evidence of its contamination, Chevron has launched a strategy of intimidation, distraction and delay. It has filed legal actions in 10 different U.S. federal courts against 23 people (including two lawyers) involved in the case, claiming ex parte contacts with a court expert constitute "fraud." Chevron knows that such contacts were allowed by the court and were common practice by both parties. Chevron devised this narrative as part of a strategy to defeat enforcement of a potentially adverse judgment.

From 1964 to 1990, Chevron deliberately dumped billions of gallons of toxic "formation water" into streams and rivers which thousands of people in the rain forest relied on for their drinking water. This hot liquid had a saline content 10 times higher than ocean water and contained heavy metals and carcinogens. Laboratory samples submitted during the trial found that all of the company's former well sites are extensively contaminated— often at levels hundreds of times higher than Ecuadorian and U.S. norms. The disaster is larger than the BP Gulf spill and will cause harm for decades if not cleaned up.

Several peer-reviewed health evaluations have found significantly elevated rates of cancer where Chevron operated. Daniel Rourke, formerly associated with the Rand Corp., has found that up to 10,000 Ecuadorians are at significant risk of contracting cancer in the coming decades. Ann Maest, a leading geochemist, found that many Chevron pit sites "still contain high levels of . . . petroleum hydrocarbon contaminants" and are in close proximity to wells used for drinking water.

The editorial also mischaracterizes Chevron's so-called "remediation" in the mid-1990s. Chevron employed a laboratory method that produced artificially low measurements of toxins that were used to induce the government to grant a release. As a result, two Chevron employees and several former Ecuadorian officials face fraud charges in Ecuador. Chevron's internal audits conducted in the early 1990s found that remediation was necessary "at all production facilities," that toxic wastes were not treated and that oil spills "were not cleaned up." Yet Chevron never conducted a single environmental or health-impact study during the 26 years it operated in Ecuador.

Chevron for years insisted on moving the litigation to Ecuador after it was filed in U.S. federal court in 1993. With the evidence against it mounting, Chevron needs to stop forum shopping and allow Ecuador's courts to determine the extent of its responsibility for this disaster.

Jonathan S. Abady

Attorney for Ecuadorian plaintiffs

New York

Monday, October 4, 2010

New Discovery Shatters Oil Giant’s So-Called “Evidence” Against Ecuadorians in Multi-Billion Dollar Contamination Lawsuit

They say a picture is worth a thousand words but, as the Ecuadorian plaintiffs have learned, a manipulated video can be worth a thousand lies. Take the inaccurate translation that Chevron has offered into evidence in its last-ditch effort to discredit the Ecuadorian eco-disaster lawsuit against the oil giant. This new discovery has shattered a key piece of evidence that the company said proved “collusion” between the plaintiffs and a court-appointed expert. Chevron’s lawyers intentionally misled U.S. federal courts with inaccurate and hidden translations. It’s not the first time Chevron has lied to courts, both here and in Ecuador. Read the press release below.

Chevron Misleads U.S. Courts with Inaccurate Translation in Multi-Billion Dollar Ecuador Contamination Lawsuit
Gibson Dunn’s Aggressive Legal Strategy Backfires In Federal Court


Amazon Defense Coalition
1 October September 2010 – FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Karen Hinton at 703-798-3109 or
Karen@hintoncommunications.com

New York, New York – Chevron has been submitting an inaccurate and misleading translation to U.S. federal courts as part of its effort to evade liability in the multi-billion dollar Ecuador environmental lawsuit, according to court papers filed recently.

Chevron’s lawyers at Gibson Dunn & Crutcher, who recently took over the Ecuador litigation for the company, submitted a highly misleading and inaccurate translation of lead Ecuadorian attorney Pablo Fajardo describing the role of court-appointed expert Richard Cabrera. Attacking Cabrera, who in 2008 submitted a damages assessment against Chevron of $27 billion, has been the centerpiece of the oil giant’s strategy to discredit the Ecuadorian judicial system to defeat enforcement of an expected adverse judgment.

Gibson Dunn brags on its website that its litigators in the Ecuador case have been described by American Lawyer magazine as the “Game Changers”; the firm notes that “clients in deep trouble turn to Gibson Dunn for fresh, aggressive thinking and innovative rescues.”

In a brief filed on Sept. 28 by representatives of the Amazonian communities in federal courts in New York and elsewhere, the plaintiffs blast Chevron for its erroneous translation of comments made by Fajardo. According to Chevron’s translation of a 2007 meeting, Fajardo told a group of scientists in Quito that Cabrera would simply “sign the report and review it.”

According to an accurate translation of the exchange, Fajardo actually said that what Cabrera “will do is give his criteria… right… his opinion, and sign the report, and review as well.”

Chevron also excluded from its court submission the contemporaneous translation of Fajardo during the meeting, which verifies that Chevron’s translation was manipulated.

"What Fajardo actually said in the meeting is radically different from what Chevron claimed he said via its bogus translation," said Karen Hinton, a spokeswoman for the communities. "Once again, Chevron is misrepresenting facts to courts around the country in support of its contrived 'fraud' narrative."

"When the facts don't fit the contrived narrative, Chevron's lawyers seem content to just make them up," she added.

Chevron has claimed to U.S. courts that ex parte contacts with experts in Ecuador is illegal, when in fact the practice was commonly used by both parties and sanctioned by the court, said Hinton. Lawyers on both sides of the dispute were invited by the court to provide materials to Cabrera and other experts; Cabrera and these other experts adopted some of the materials provided by the parties.

The plaintiffs also have submitted evidence that Chevron's lawyers, on a regular basis, met ex parte with judges overseeing the trial.

This is not the first time that Chevron has manipulated the meaning of translations for legal or public relations purposes.

In 2009, Chevron accused the Ecuadorian judge then presiding over the case of saying an appeal by Chevron of an adverse decision would only be a "formality" when what he actually said was the parties would have to observe the "formalities" of the appeals process. Chevron then used the misleading translation to claim to the media that the judge had "fixed" the trial.

So far this year Chevron has sought to depose 23 persons in the U.S. associated with the Ecuador case, including two lawyers who have represented the plaintiffs.

Chevron’s strategy of using U.S. discovery rules to harass the Amazonian communities in Ecuador – termed “abusive litigation” by the plaintiffs -- has not gone unnoticed. One U.S. federal magistrate judge recently ruled that Chevron’s discovery strategy is “spiraling out of control” and is an attempt to circumvent the rules of Ecuador’s courts, where Chevron had the trial moved after it was originally filed in U.S. federal court in 1993.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Chevron's Thin Skin Exposed Again

Maria Ramos Refuses to Succumb To Oil Giant’s Strong-Arm Tactics

Maria Ramos of the Rainforest Action Network has long been a thorn in Chevron’s side over its Ecuador environmental disaster, considered the worst on the planet. Just how much so was recently captured on video.

As the director of the We Can Change Chevron initiative, Ramos recently attended the “Corporate Citizen Conference” of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. This was a platform for Chevron (one of the largest donors to the Chamber) to try to green wash its disastrous environmental record in Ecuador and to tout its “public partnerships” throughout the world. (Note: one “public partnership” Chevron never wants to talk about is how the company is in bed with Venezuelan strong man Hugo Chavez.)

Ramos had the courage to pose several questions to Chevron official Gary Fisher about the company’s “public partnership” in Ecuador that has left 1,400 people dead from cancer and thousands of others sick with cancer, skin disease, respiratory problems and other illnesses. From 1964 until 1990, Chevron dumped billions of gallons of toxic water and oil into the rainforest, destroying the environment and tainting the local water supply on which tens of thousands of people relied for their survival. The company has refused to take responsibility for the eco-disaster and has undertaken a legal battle to derail a 17-year-old lawsuit seeking damages.

Not surprisingly, security showed up and tried to silence Ramos, but she had none of it. Watch Ramos here as a beefy security guard tries to cover up the microphone while she poses a question.

Chevron of course has a history of suppressing the Free Speech rights of its critics. At its May annual meeting, Chevron conspired with the Houston police to have five shareholder critics arrested and charged with criminal trespassing. Chevron also refused to allow 20 people from Ecuador, Burma, Nigeria and the Philippines to attend the meeting, even though they had legitimate shareholder proxies. Read about this other “public partnership” here. The Chamber is now threatening to bill Rainforest Action Network $10,000 for attending the conference. Stay tuned for more.