Tag: Rafael Correa

More than a Lawsuit: A Circle of Political Pressure Against Chevron

Chevron’s Dilemma: Creating an Untenable Situation for a Multinational – Winter 2009

Chevron held its annual stockholders meeting in San Ramon, Calif., today, and environmental activists again demanded that the company settle a lawsuit brought against it in Ecuador. But new documents show these demands, like most before them, to be serving not justice but instead the pecuniary interests of a small group of contingency-fee lawyers and their allies.

The U.S. trial lawyers suing Chevron over alleged environmental damage in Ecuador have worked from a sophisticated political and PR plan that has sought to use Congress, state governments and major media and even directly influence President Obama to force the oil company into a settlement.

Documents obtained by Chevron in court proceedings* reveal the true nature of the campaign against the company: It’s not about using the law to find the truth, but rather applying the maximum amount of political pressure to extort billions of dollars from the U.S. corporate target. From those billions, the American contingency-fee attorneys and their operatives would take a huge share for their own enrichment.

Effectively using the discovery process to delve deep into the scheme, Chevron has uncovered sufficient proof of wrongdoing to bring a federal racketeering suit against the key actors behind the shakedown lawsuit.

Evidence of fraud at the heart of the anti-Chevron campaign has led a U.S. federal judge to block any effort by the “Lago Agrio” plaintiffs and their U.S. lawyers to collect on an $18 billion judgment handed down by an Ecuadorian court against the San Ramon, California company.

Chevron is the target because the company acquired Texaco in 2001; Texaco had operated in Ecuador’s Amazon in a consortium with the state-owned oil company, Petroecuador, from the 1960s until 1992. Texaco remediated any environmental damage before it left Ecuador, while Petroecuador continued operations (and pollution).

The campaign against Chevron is multifaceted and organized. We have referred to it as the “combine,” an alliance of trial lawyers, politicians, activists and supportive media. But the lawyers themselves depict the campaign as an encirclement, orchestrating numerous actors to pressure the company toward a settlement.

Above right is a chart created in January 2009 by Andrew Woods, an attorney who works with the Amazon Defense Coalition, the PR front group for New York trial lawyer Steven Donziger, his team of contingency-fee attorneys and the Ecuadorian plaintiffs suing Chevron. The document’s title is “Chevron’s Dilemma: Creating an Untenable Situation for a Multinational – Winter 2009.” (Click for a larger picture.)

Chevron submitted the chart on April 26 to the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, one of a batch of 29 new submissions to support the company’s motion to hold Donziger in contempt for failing to disclose tens of thousands of documents he was under court order to make available to Chevron.

Each of the circles represents one of pressure points the lawyers are bringing to bear as they attempt to create “an untenable situation” for Chevron.

There’s the circle for “Crude,” the documentary-style film that director Joe Berlinger originally claimed was an independent and balanced exploration of the effects of oil development on Amazonian Indians. But New York trial lawyer Steven Donziger originally sold him on the project and subsequently Berlinger has conceded he let the lawyers make key editorial decisions to avoid undermining their storyline that Chevron is evil. In the circle you can see how the legal team planned to use the film:

“Crude” Film

  • To be shown in local communities of the [Chevron] Board of Directors; Can generate media attention in home communities of BOD members.
  • To be shown on Capitol Hill in coordination with Rep. McGovern
  • Potential screening in White House.

Rep. McGovern is Jim McGovern (D-MA), one of the lawyers’ key allies on Capitol Hill. He spoke at a showing of the film in downtown Washington in October 2009, recalling a trip he had made to Ecuador — here’s a photo of the Congressman with Donziger in the jungle — and describing his efforts to bring President Obama into the anti-Chevron fight. “Ramp up the pressure!” McGovern urged the crowd at the Landmark E-Street Theatre. (See earlier Shopfloor posts on the movie.)

President Obama gets his own circle [below right], denoted, “Ongoing pressure of new administration publicly unfriendly to big oil companies.” Not just unfriendly to big oil companies, the President was a Harvard Law School classmate and former basketball playing buddy of Steven Donziger. How about that for an avenue of influence?

The trial lawyers knew they had an ally. As a Senator, Obama joined Sen. Patrick Leahy in writing a letter in 2006 to then-U.S. Trade Representative Rob Portman, highlighting the cause of the Amazonian Indians against Chevron. The Senators rejected any efforts to tie U.S. trade preferences for Ecuador to the country’s treatment of Chevron in the litigation, telling Portman: “While we are not prejudging the outcome of the case, we do believe the 30,000 indigenous residents of Ecuador deserve their day in court.”

That being the corrupted and politicized courts of Ecuador, which in February produced a $18 billion judgment against the company.

While the White House has stayed out of the issue publicly, the Obama Administration continued to support trade preferences for Ecuador, despite the continued assault on democratic institutions and U.S. interests by the leftist government of Rafael Correa. (continue reading…)

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No Surprise: Ecuador Judge Rules Against Chevron

Chevron broke the news today that a judge in Ecuador has ruled against the company in the multiyear, multibillion-dollar litigation shakedown by U.S. trial lawyers claiming environmental damage in the Amazon. There has been so much wrongdoing and dishonesty by the plaintiffs in Ecuador and the United States that the ruling comes as no surprise.

From the Chevron news release, “Illegitimate Judgment Against Chevron in Ecuador Lawsuit“:

The Ecuadorian court’s judgment is illegitimate and unenforceable.  It is the product of fraud and is contrary to the legitimate scientific evidence.  Chevron will appeal this decision in Ecuador and intends to see that justice prevails.

United States and international tribunals already have taken steps to bar enforcement of the Ecuadorian ruling.  Chevron does not believe that today’s judgment is enforceable in any court that observes the rule of law.

Chevron intends to see that the perpetrators of this fraud are held accountable for their misconduct.

Reuters quotes Pablo Fajardo, a lawyer for the plaintiffs in Ecuador, that the judge’s award was $8 billion.

The amount of damages sought by the plaintiffs fluctuates according to various manipulated reports and political considerations, rising from $6 billion at one point to $26.7 billion to the most recent $113 billion. Lest one conclude, “Oh, Chevron actually came out OK,” it’s worth remembering that the plaintiffs’ team that organized the shakedown always sought a high damage figure as part of its strategy.

Outtakes from the documentary-style film “Crude” on the litigation revealed as much. Steven Donziger, the New York trial lawyer who has masterminded the suit, is seen discussing possible damages against Texaco (later acquired by Chevron). Donziger says:

  • “If we have a legitimate fifty billion dollar damages claim, and they end up—the judge says, well, I can’t give them less than five billion . . . . And, say, Tex had a huge victory.  They knocked out ninety percent of the damages claim.”  And …
  • “But as a concept, I ask, do we ask for much more than we really want as a strategy?  Do we ask for eight and expect three, so that [the judge] says, ‘Look, Texaco, I cut down the largest part.’”

In any case, the amount has no relation to reality – or justice. A $1 million, $1,000 or $100 finding of damages would be just as wrong because the lawsuit itself is corrupt. Chevron has filed a RICO suit against the U.S. and Ecuadorian lawyers and activists, detailing the multifacted conspiracy against the company.

Chevron’s point of view and numerous legal claims have also been recognized by legitimate judicial bodies of the United States and the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague.

On February 8, U.S. District Court Judge Lewis Kaplan cited the record of widespread wrongdoing to block the plaintiffs from going after any of Chevron’s assets anywhere in the world. (New York Law Journal, Shopfloor)

Last week, the international arbitration panel ruled that Ecuador should not pursue any awards from the litigation pending Chevron’s arbitration vis a vis the country over violations of the Bilateral Investment Treaty. (Reuters: ”Arbitrators find for Chevron in Ecuador dispute.”)

The lawsuit against Chevron was always extortionate, an operation meant to damage the company’s reputation enough so it would feel compelled to settle. The judge’s ruling  in Ecuador was supposed to provide the final bit of pressure necessary to force the settlement.

Fortunately, now that U.S. court proceedings have revealed the cynical conspiracy at the heart of the litigation, the ruling in Ecuador provides nothing more than additional evidence of corruption.

UPDATE (4:15 p.m.): In this Spanish-language report, the judge is identified as Nicolás Zambrano.

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In Chevron Shakedown, Ecuador’s Government Plays a Part

Steven Donziger is clearly the “star” in the documentary-style film, “Crude,” about the $113 billion shakedown lawsuit against Chevron claiming environmental damage in Ecuador. The New York trial lawyer is profane, arrogant, and in numerous outtakes obtained by Chevron, repeatedly reveals the corruption at the heart of the litigation. Donziger’s admissions against interest have done so much damage to the suit that he has reduced his public role with the plaintiffs’ team, which has turned to the prestigious law firm and lobbying outfit, Patton Boggs, to salvage its case.

But there’s another great performance in the film, a cameo appearance that bears close attention. In segments never shown to the public, Alexis Mera, Ecuador’s Secretary of Judicial Affairs and a legal advisor to President Rafael Correa, strategizes with the plaintiffs’ legal team about how best to apply political pressure to a public prosecutor and even revoke an Ecuadorian law so the lawsuit gains a modicum of legitimacy.

Mera’s comments — and other revelations from the outtakes — demonstrate that the government of Ecuador has been actively aiding the U.S. trial lawyers’ plans to extort billions out of a U.S.-based company. The scheming by top government officials, as well as comments by Correa himself, reinforce the Ecuadorian government’s anti-American policies and contempt for international law.

On March 29, 2007, Mera met in his offices with the legal team of the so-called Lago Agrio plaintiffs, including Pablo Fajardo, Alejandro Ponce Villacis, and Julio Prietro, as well as the activist and public face of the anti-Chevron awsuit, Luis Yanza. In one outtake, Mera says, “The problem, I see, is what to do and how we can help each other.”

The video, available here, continues with Mera and the team discussing the Public Prosecutor’s office, which the plaintiffs’ lawyers are demanding should bring criminal charges against two Chevron attorneys in Ecuador. The plaintiffs want the charges brought to introduce personal risk into the portfolio of pressure tactics; Chevron might be more inclined to settle if its employees could be sent to jail.

The top justice official advises, “You have to take the people from the Orient [province] there, hold a demonstration. The people — that’s how this country works. Close Republica Street.”

Then there’s this, Mera’s clear recognition that his discussions with the plaintiffs are improper.

Mera and the plaintiffs’ team are talking about a “nullity suit” to revoke the Ecuadorian government’s previous sign-off on Texaco’s clean-up of its Ecuadorian oil operations. (Chevron acquired Texaco in 2001.) As they’re discussing these legal issues, Mera seems to realize the camera is on.

MERA: Why are they filming? Why are they filming? That seems to me to be completely improper. Forgive me for the way I’m saying it.

Camerman: Let’s see. Forgive me. Excuse me. (Cut off)

When you’re a government official scheming with a private party in a lawsuit, you tend not to want to be caught on camera. (continue reading…)

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After Fraud and Conspiring, the Logical Next Step: RICO

What do you call an operation in which the lead lawyer in a multi-billion dollar lawsuit talks about threatening judges, an environmental activist worries about a cameraman recording plans to subvert justice, a supposed independent court expert submits a report written for him by plaintiffs, documents are forged, ex parte meetings engaged in with government officials, and the skullduggery emerges only because a documentary filmaker let the lawyers dictate his “art?” Well, it’s a racket, sure. Corrupt? Claro.

Since Chevron was the subject of this corrupt scheme under the guise of a lawsuit claiming environmental damage in Ecuador, it’s comes as no surprise that the company has now filed a RICO lawsuit against the lawyers, activists and various hangers-on involved in the shakedown. (UPDATE: Here’s Chevron’s filing in the Southern District of New York.)

Courthouse News Service reports the news, “Chevron Levels RICO Charges Over $113B Trial in Ecuador,” with the suit naming Steven Donziger, the New York trial lawyer who masterminded the scheme, as the lead defendant in the 214-page suit.

Other defendants include the Amazon Defense Front and Stratus Consulting. Alleged co-conspirators who are not named as defendants include Joseph Kohn and his firm Kohn, Swift & Graf; the law firm Emery Celli Brinckerhoff & Abady; the firm Motley Rice; the firm Patton Boggs; and spokeswoman Karen Hinton.

Courthouse News Service quotes from Chevron’s complaint:

Over the course of several years, defendants Steven Donziger and his co-defendants and co-conspirators have sought to extort, defraud, and otherwise tortiously injure plaintiff Chevron by means of a plan they conceived and substantially executed in the United States. The enterprise’s ultimate aim is to create enough pressure on Chevron in the United States to extort it into paying to stop the campaign against it. (continue reading…)

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The Business of Plaintiffs’ Law: To Make [Expletive] Money

Thank goodness for “Crude,” the documentary-style film that followed the litigation and PR campaign against Chevron. Thanks to the cameramen and their cameras, we learn that the $27 billion — and then $113 billion — lawsuit orchestrated by U.S. trial lawyers isn’t about cleaning up the environment in Ecuador, justice for Amazonians, or punishing rapacious corporations. No, it’s all about “the business of the plaintiffs’ law, to make f****** money.”

That’s the revealing quote from Steven Donziger, the trial lawyer whose frank admissions on outtakes from “Crude” have shown the litigation to be a naked shakedown of a deep-pockets U.S. company. You can watch Donziger utter the uncensored remarks in the clip below, shot after a plaintiffs’ group exited the offices of The San Francisco Chronicle in April 2007.

Excerpts:

(continue reading…)

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Videos Reveal Anti-Chevron Strategy: Politics, Pressure and Lies

Ever since Shopfloor began blogging about the Ecuador-based litigation against Chevron in May 2007, we’ve argued that the lawsuit was a blatant shakedown by U.S. trial lawyers. In claiming Chevron owed $27 billlion — and then $113 billion — for environmental damage from Texaco’s oil drilling in the Amazon, the U.S. attorneys and Lago Agrio plaintiffs in Ecuador were really trying to pressure Chevron (which had bought Texaco in 2001) into a huge settlement. The bigger the settlement, the bigger the check for the U.S. lawyers being paid on a contingency basis.

Their preposterous claims relied not on facts or the law, but rather a multifaceted and ugly public relations and political campaign. At work was a combine of U.S. trial lawyers, environmental activists and anti-corporate bloggers, magnifying their accusations through a sympathetic mainstream media. The shakedown campaign recorded several PR victories, including a  “60 Minutes” hit piece against Chevron and most notably a full-length, overwhelmingly pro-plaintiffs’ film, “Crude,” by well-known documentarian Joe Berlinger.

In Ecuador the plaintiffs’ team manipulated the court system and made common cause with the leftist, anti-American regime of President Rafael Correa. (More on that in a later post.)

The response to our arguments? Chevron lies, America exploits the Third World, Ecuadorians are dying and you’re an inhumane corporate shill.

Now, thanks to outtakes from “Crude” that Chevron successfully obtained through the U.S. courts,  the trial lawyer/activist/media combine can no longer pretend any sort of moral high ground. Footage reveals Steven Donziger, the lead U.S. attorney who has directed the anti-Chevron campaign in Ecuador and the United States,  to be a cynical, arrogant and foul-mouthed commentator. And, unfortunately for the plaintiffs’ case, Donziger is remarkably frank.

Take for example, this video below. At a June 6, 2007, meeting Donziger outlined the plaintiffs’ strategy to intimidate the Ecuadorian courts through the show of brute force. [Warning: Language]

Excerpts:

(continue reading…)

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A Review of a Very Busy Week for Manufacturers in Congress, Executive Branch

Catching up with last week’s blizzard of legislative action and regulatory excess…

On Thursday, Dec. 23, the Environmental Protection Agency circumvented the policymaking branch of government, the U.S. Congress, and announced its plans to regulate greenhouse gas emissions from such sources as coal-fired power plants and refineries. In a statement, Jay Timmons, executive vice president of the National Association of Manufacturers, said, “Today’s announcements demonstrate the EPA’s commitment to move forward with an overreaching agenda that will only raise energy costs and hurt manufacturers’ ability to grow, create jobs and compete in the global marketplace.” 

As its final legislative action before adjourning, the House on Wednesday, Dec. 22, agreed to the Senate’s stripped-down version of H.R. 6517, the Omnibus Trade Act. With removal of the critical Miscellaneous Trade Benefits language, the bill is more minibus: It extends for six weeks Andean Trade Preferences Act benefits for Colombia — well-deserved — and for Ecuador, now governed by the leftist government of Rafael Correa, which has attacked the rule of law and violated its treaty obligations. The bill also extends Trade Adjustment Assistance authority for retraining programs for workers affected by trade. The incoming Ways & Means chairman, Rep. Dave Camp (R-MI), commented, “I would rather have passed a longer-term extension of ATPA and TAA, and unfortunately, the other provisions of the House bill died in the Senate.  I look forward to working in the next Congress on additional trade legislation, including enacting the trade agreements with Colombia, South Korea, and Panama.” 

Also on Wednesday, the House approved the Senate-amended version of H.R. 847, the James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act, by a vote of 206-60, with 168 members not voting. The earlier House bill had a pricetag of $7.4 billion; thanks largely to the doughtiness of Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK), the total cost has been reduced to $4.2 billion with stronger oversight provisions included and a cap imposed on trial lawyer fees. (Coburn news release.) The compromise language replaces the House’s early funding mechanism, a tax on multinational companies that do business in the United States. Instead, the law charges  “a 2 percent excise fee on foreign manufacturers/companies located in countries where the U.S. does not have an international procurement agreement receiving government disbursements made under future procurement agreements.  In addition, the bill would extend fees on H-1B and L-1 visas until 2015.” (Senate GOP release.) 

The Senate confirmed federal judges, but did not act on two controversial nominees to U.S. District Court of interest to manufacturers: John “Jack” McConnell, the Rhode Island trial lawyer who masterminded the state’s litigation against paint manufacturers, and former Wisconsin Supreme Court Justice Louis Butler, Jr., who helped strike down the state’s limits on medical liability and promoted the scheme of “market share liability” for paint manufacturers. 

On Tuesday, Dec. 21, the House of Representatives agreed to the Senate amendments to the FDA Food Safety Modernization Act as contained in H.R. 2751, and the bill now goes to President Obama for his signature. The NAM supported the bill. For more, see Food Manufacturing’s report, “What The Food Safety Modernization Act Means To You.”  (continue reading…)

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Answers, Accountability for ‘Field General’ of Anti-Chevron Suit

U.S. District Judge Lewis Kaplan has issued his full opinion explaining his earlier order that Steven Donziger, the U.S. trial lawyer, answer the questions of Chevron’s attorneys about his orchestration of the $113 billion lawsuit against the company in Ecuador.

Released Friday in the Southern District of New York, Kaplan’s order denies Donziger’s claims that, among other arguments, being forced to submit to depositions would violate attorney-client privilege. But Donziger isn’t admitted to practice law in Ecuador where the litigation is taking place, and he does not play a counsel’s role. Judge Kaplan refers to Donziger as the “field general” of the anti-Chevron campaign.

Donziger is at the center of this controversy. While he is a member of the New York Bar and years ago worked on a predecessor to the Lago Agrio lawsuit that was brought in this Court, he is not qualified to practice law in Ecuador. He does not serve as litigation counsel there. He nevertheless has been extremely active in support of the Lago Agrio plaintiffs.

The evidence before this Court shows that Donziger has attempted to (1) intimidate the Ecuadorian judges, (2) obtain political support for the Ecuadorian lawsuit, (3) persuade the GOE to promote the interests of the Lago Agrio plaintiffs, (4) obtain favorable media coverage, (5) solicit the support of celebrities (including Daryl Hannah and Trudie Styler) and environmental groups, (6) procure and package “expert” testimony for use in Ecuador, (7) pressure Chevron to pay a large settlement, and (8) obtain a book deal. Among his efforts was his persuasion of Joseph Berlinger, a documentary film maker, to make a documentary about the Lago Agrio litigation from the plaintiffs’ point of view. That film, entitled Crude, purports to tell the story of the Lago Agrio litigation. It is no exaggeration to say that Donziger is the star of the film, much of which focuses on his words and activities.

And it’s the outtakes of “Crude” that document so much of the wrongdoing, in the process destroying any vestige of legal or moral standing the plaintiffs could claim in their suit against Chevron. (continue reading…)

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Scheming Against Chevron: Now Watch the Videos

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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‘Crude’ Outtakes Made Public; What an Opportunity for ’60 Minutes’

U.S. District Judge Lewis Kaplan of the Southern District of New York has just issued an order (.pdf file) making outtakes from the documentary-style film, “Crude,” available to the public. 

Footage from Joe Berlinger’s movie has been available to the attorneys involved in the contingency-fee litigation against Chevron for environmental damage in Ecuador. Transcripts from the outtakes have also been entered into the court record, documenting the  manipulation of the judicial process by Steven Donziger, the lead U.S. trial lawyer, and the U.S. and Ecuadorian legal team/activists. (Shopfloor, “‘Crude’ Footage Reveals Lies Behind Trial Lawyers’ Suit Against Chevron.”)

However explosive, the transcripts still fail to capture the full disdain for the truth shown by the players behind the litigation and PR campaign against Chevron.  Thanks to Judge Kaplan’s Oct. 7 order, now everyone can see the video that shows the plaintiff’s team scheming and swearing and orchestrating the shakedown against the company. From the order:

Reporters with Thomson Reuters and with The American Lawyer magazine and ALM Media have requested copies to a total of approximately ten compact disks filed as Exhibit A to a declaration of Kristen Hendricks [DI 14 -10 MC 0002]; Exhibits A and D to another declaration of Ms. Hendricks [DI41 – 10 MC 0002]; and Exhibits 1 and 2 to the declaration of Paul E. Dans [DI 40-10 MC 0002]. The parties have no objection to the requests.

Accordingly, the Clerk shall provide copies of these disks to the requesters and any member of the public who requests copies of the same disks upon payment of the reasonable cost of duplication and blank media.

60 Minutes' segment on Chevron in Ecuador failed to report full story.We were disappointed to see that “60 Minutes” was not one of the requesters asking for copies of the videos. The CBS news-entertainment magazine delivered a miserably one-sided report on the litigation in May 2009, “Amazon Crude,” that accepted as fact the trial lawyers’ thesis: Chevron is a corporate monster that does not care that its predecessor, Texaco, polluted Ecuador’s Amazon with no regard for the native people, so damn right they should pay up.

Along with “Crude” and William Langewiesche’s evocative story-telling in Vanity Fair, “Jungle Law,” the “60 Minutes” piece represented one of the most powerful PR weapons in the U.S. trial lawyers’ litigation war against Chevron. Of course, as this Columbia Journalism Review analysis concluded, ”How 60 Minutes Missed on Chevron,” the report fell short on facts and relied instead of innuendo.

Judge Kaplan’s order provides “60 Minutes”  a great opportunity for more serious journalism in the form of a powerful follow-up segment, recounting how their producers and reporter Scott Pelley gave too much credence to the trial lawyers’ claims, failed to appreciate the legitimacy of Chevron’s arguments, and ultimately produced an unfair and inaccurate account of the litigation.

It’s a heck of story: Foul-mouthed New York trial lawyer and supposedly heroic activists work with left-wing Ecuadorian government to corrupt the courts and shake down a U.S. company for billions of dollars.

“60 Minutes,” you already have all the earlier footage shot in Ecuador. Now the damning, explosive outtakes from “Crude” are available just for the price of copying the files onto DVDs.

What a great opportunity for serious journalism.

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