Ah Yes, Now the Personal Attacks

By June 23, 2009General

In the comments to our post below, “Ecuador, Correa, Trial Attorneys and the Convergence of Interests,” you’ll see the use of a tactic common to the plaintiff’s side in the U.S. trial lawyers/environmental activist lawsuit against Chevron for the operations of Texaco in Ecuador. Karen Hinton of Hinton Communications, hired to do PR by the plaintiffs, goes after me by name, accusing me of inhumanity, etc. 

What took so long? The lawyers in this case have specialized in personal attacks and intimidation, encouraging blogospheric campaigns against anyone who dares to challenge the preposterous claims made in the lawsuit and propaganda. In the movie “Crude,” there’s a scene where the chief U.S. trial attorney Steven Donziger bursts into a judge’s office in Quito with the media in tow, a scene full of shouting and physical intimidation — Donziger’s a big guy. The judge, an old and shaky fellow, backs off a decision-making process just as Donziger wanted. The Ecuadorian attorney for Chevron is left sputtering.

The next scene in the hallway has the Chevron attorney trying to explain his side of the issue. Donziger is shouting, pointing fingers, gesticulating menacingly, “This is a corrupt attorney! This is a corrupt attorney!” (As we said, “Crude” is a remarkably revealing movie, made in a documentary-like style.)

It’s a tactic. It’s a cynical yet successful tactic that appears throughout the plaintiff’s case and masterful PR campaign. The facts of their lawsuit don’t bear up — see http://www.chevron.com/ecuador/ for Chevron’s side — so the  plaintiff’s team resorts to ad hominem, appeal to emotion, and blogospheric harassment. It’s only surprising it took them a day to call out Ms. Hinton’s sharp keyboard, although she does seem to spend a lot of time online.

P.S. Sludge? Petroecuador has operated the oil fields in Ecuador since 1990. Any sludge we saw was the result of Petroecuador, the government-owned oil company.

P.P.S. Here’s a revealing connection. As the movie “Crude” documents, the lawsuit against Chevron is being financed by the Philadelphia law firm of Kohn, Swift & Graf, P.C. The firm last year hired the lobbying firm of Ben Barnes to lobby Congress on Ecuador and the environment. And whom does Hinton Communications list among its clients? The Ben Barnes Group!

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