Congratulations to Corporate Counsel for being the first media outlet to post the videos of the outtakes from the documentary-style movie “Crude” that have revealed the trial lawyer/activist lawsuit against Chevron for environmental damage in Ecuador to at its core a multi-billion-dollar shakedown against the U.S. company.

The magazine’s sister publication, The American Lawyer, obtained copies of the outtakes from the U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York, after Judge Lewis Kaplan ordered their release to the public.  Corporate Counsel has now posted the key videos with short summaries from Michael Goldhaber, the reporter who has provided the most thorough coverage of the court proceedings in New York.

From “EXCLUSIVE: Chevron In Ecuador — the Tapes the Plaintiffs Don’t Want You to See“:

In the final version of Crude — the 2009 Joel [sic] Berlinger documentary on the epic environmental suit brought by Amazon tribespeople against Chevron Corporation in Ecuador — lead U.S. plaintiffs’ attorney Steven Donziger remarks: “This is something you would never do in the United States, but Ecuador, you know, this is how the game is played, it’s dirty.”

If Donziger would say something so provocative for the final cut, reasoned Chevron’s lawyers at Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher, then just imagine how outrageous he must look in the extra footage.

Well, the public no longer needs to use its imagination.

As Goldhaber explains, Chevron views the first two outtakes (there are six total) as the most legally damning, showing the team of lawyers/activists orchestrating the supposedly independent court-appointed expert’s damage assessment.

  • Video 1: “Plaintiffs’ lead Ecuadorian lawyer, Pablo Fajardo, gives a PowerPoint presentation to his team that envisions extensive coordination with the independent damages expert.” You mean the same Pablo Fajardo who won the ostensibly prestigious Goldman Environmental Prize in 2008?
  • Video 2: “The day after the PowerPoint presentation where the Ecuadorian plaintiffs laid out their plan to coordinate with the court-appointed expert, one of plaintiffs’ consultants suggests that it was ‘bizarre’ that the meeting included ‘perito,’ which means ‘[the] expert.’” That expert is Richard Cabrera, who recommended the $27 billion damage figure.

The PR front group in the lawsuit, the Amazon Defense Coalition, claims that ex parte contacts are common in Ecuador. Sure, and no one worries that one side in the lawsuit gets to write the expert’s report and pick the damage figures.

Corporate Counsel is, of course, a special-interest publication, reaching an audience of mostly business attorneys. Now it’s up to all the major media outlets that have covered the litigation against Chevron — The New York Times and “60 Minutes” come mind — to follow-up and give these outtakes the attention they deserve.  Thomson/Reuters also requested copies of the videos from the U.S. District Court, so there’s a powerful media distribution system available.

Until then, good job, Corporate Counsel!

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