A federal judge today dealt another setback to the trial lawyer/activist/media combine trying to shake down Chevron for alleged environmental damage in Ecuador. Judge Lewis Kaplan of the U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York, ruled that film director Joe Berlinger must provide additional evidence about the shooting of his documentary-style film, “Crude.” David Itzkoff of the Arts Beat blog at The New York Times covers the ruling, “Filmmaker Ordered to Give Testimony in Chevron Case“:
A federal judge in Manhattan ruled on Tuesday that a documentary filmmaker must submit to depositions in a case involving Chevron, writing in a strongly worded opinion that the oil company’s original request to see the filmmaker’s raw documentary footage was “no fishing expedition.”
In July a federal appeals court ruled that the filmmaker, Joe Berlinger, must turn over a portion of unused footage from his documentary “Crude” to Chevron, which said that the footage may be useful in its fight against a lawsuit in Ecuador.
Judge Kaplan’s 28-page ruling is here. He makes three points:
- First, the outtakes contain substantial evidence of misconduct in and relating to the Ecuadorian litigation.
- Second, as this Court previously has noted, Berlinger was invited by the Lago Agrio plaintiffs to make of the film and the outtakes.
- Third, Berlinger and his counsel, in the proceedings that led to production of the outtakes, made representations about the contents of the outtakes that proved inaccurate.
Indeed, the footage so far has revealed absolutely damning conversations among the U.S. trial lawyer leading the lawsuit, Steven Donziger, the various Ecuadorian lawyers and activists, including the founder of Amazon Watch, even to the point of participants talking about raising “an army” to intimidate the court in Ecuador. Other footage depicted conversations about how a court-appointed “independent” expert could exaggerate the damages against Chevron, even as this expert, Richard Cabrera, was in the same room!
Berlinger’s suppression of the “Crude” outtakes tells you that despite all his claims about trying to make a fair movie, he was perfectly happy with being manipulated by Donziger and in turn with manipulating the audience, just as long as he had a compelling storyline. Didn’t matter if it was true or not.
But the truth matters when a U.S.-based business employing thousands of people is subject to a trial lawyer shakedown — $27 billion claimed in damages! — and some of its employees are facing criminal charges in Ecuador.
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