Shakedown Street, a Dead End for U.S. Trial Lawyers

By September 23, 2010Briefly Legal, Energy

OK, it’s not that imaginative a description, but it IS accurate and we’re pleased that The Wall Street Journal editorial page joins us in describing the U.S. trial lawyer-instigated litigation in Ecuador against Chevron as a “shakedown.” Today’s lead opinion piece is, “Shakedown in the Rain Forest.”

The editorial brings readers up to date on the collapse of the trial lawyer/activist combine’s legal attack against the company, including last week’s preposterous increase of claims against it for environmental damage in Ecuador to $113 billion. As the Journal recounts, testimony and outtakes from the documentary-style movie, “Crude,” demonstrate the suit to be a cynical, orchestrated, well, shakedown, using bad publicity as a hammer in an attempt to beat Chevron into a settlement.

The Journal concludes:

Perhaps the definitive verdict on the case was delivered by one of the plaintiffs’ attorneys, Joe Kohn of the Philadelphia firm Kohn Swift & Graf, who told the makers of “Crude” that “a lot of my motivation is, at the end of the day, is that it will be a lucrative case for the firm.” And that’s not even in the outtakes.

The (non-jury) trial stage of the litigation ended in Ecuador last week. For an update, see our post at Point of Law, “Anti-Chevron suit reaches new stage in Ecuador, still ridiculous,” and this AmLaw Daily report, “Back for More in Ecuador.” And this news release from Chevron offers a “greatest hits” of the trial lawyer conniving and admissions against interest.

UPDATE (2:50 p.m.): Bob McCarty, who blogs at Bob McCarty Writes, has been following the Chevron litigation as well and takes satisfaction at the major media accounts now confirming what should have been obvious all along, that the lawsuit was a ginned-up effort to judicially “extort” billions of dollars from a U.S. company. See his post, “Sixteen Months of Reporting Validated by Major Media Reports About Chevron-Ecuador Lawsuit.”

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