See below for a media advisory from Amazon Watch:
MEDIA ADVISORY | AMAZON WATCH
January 21, 2014
What: Prominent civil society organizations announce effort vs. Chevron attacks on advocacy and announce new legal team in Ecuador pollution case
When: 11am, Thursday, January 23rd
Where: Sierra Club Legislative Office, 50 F Street NW, 8th floor, Washington DC
More Than 30 Environmental & Corp. Governance Groups Condemn Chevron’s Retaliatory Attacks Against Ecuadorians
U.S. Attorney For Rainforest Communities to Announce New Appellate Team
Washington, DC – A wide cross-section of U.S.-based environmental and corporate governance groups will condemn Chevron’s most recent retaliatory attacks to intimidate the Ecuadorian indigenous peoples and farmers who have been harmed by the oil giant’s massive contamination of their ancestral lands at a press conference here on January 23rd. Ecuador’s Supreme Court recently affirmed a historic $9.5 billion damage award against Chevron in a legal battle that has spanned two decades of litigation in the U.S. and Ecuador.
Read the open letter signed by several dozen civil society groups condemning Chevron’s retaliatory attacks.
Chevron’s strategy has been led by Gibson Dunn attorney Randy Mastro who recently was hired by NJ Gov. Chris Christie to help rescue the Governor from the unfolding ‘Bridgegate’ scandal.
A new appellate legal team for Chevron’s principal target in the United States, attorney Steven Donziger, also will be announced on January 23rd at 11am at the office of Sierra Club, 50 F Street, NW, 8th floor, Washington, DC. Having just returned from Ecuador, Donziger will appear with his new counsel along with representatives of the various groups will make a statement about the broader implications of Chevron’s retaliatory attacks for human rights advocacy and political speech in the U.S.
A class of approximately 30,000 Ecuadorian rainforest villagers filed suit against Chevron in 1993 in U.S. courts seeking a cleanup of their ancestral lands from extensive oil pollution that occurred between 1964 and 1992 in the Amazon region. Chevron fought successfully to move the case to Ecuador, praising the fairness of the country’s judicial system. The trial against Chevron in Ecuador began in 2003. During the trial Chevron admitted it had dumped billions of gallons of toxic waste into the rainforest and its own internal technical reports confirmed significant levels of toxins in the lands and waters relied on for sustenance by six indigenous groups and roughly 70 farmer communities. Numerous witnesses testified about negative health impacts, including high rates of cancer.
Just before Ecuador’s lower court was to rule on the case in 2011, Chevron said it would never pay for a clean-up and sought an unprecedented injunction in New York federal court to block enforcement of any judgment throughout the world. U.S. Judge Lewis A. Kaplan, who had made disparaging comments about the Ecuadorians and their judicial system, granted the injunction only to have it unanimously overturned by the Second Circuit Court of Appeals. Chevron later pushed forward with an extraordinary racketeering and extortion lawsuit against the 47 named Ecuadorian plaintiffs, their Ecuadorian and U.S. attorneys, and various consultants alleging they were all lying about Chevron’s pollution and that the entire case was “sham litigation.”
Chevron sought roughly $60 billion in damages from its victims and used at least 114 attorneys and 150 investigators on the case. Just before a scheduled trial last October, Chevron suddenly dropped all damages claims to avoid a jury of impartial fact finders. Judge Kaplan then conducted a seven-week bench trial where he prohibited almost all evidence of Chevron’s pollution in Ecuador and denied the Ecuadorians and their lawyers the right to mount a meaningful defense. In the meantime, in November Ecuador’s Supreme Court unanimously affirmed the judgment against Chevron. Judge Kaplan is expected to rule in Chevron’s favor in the coming weeks and to again impose an injunction purporting to block enforcement of the Ecuador case. The Ecuadorians and their counsel believe any such injunction will be of highly questionable legality and will have no impact on enforcement actions pending against the company in Canada, Argentina, and Brazil.