Chevron lawsuit (re Nigeria)

In 1999, a group of Nigerians of the Niger Delta region, where Chevron engages in oil production activities, brought a lawsuit against Chevron in US federal court.  The plaintiffs allege that they suffered human rights violations, including torture and summary execution, at the hands of the Nigerian military and police acting in concert with Chevron to suppress the plaintiffs’ protests against Chevron’s environmental practices in the Niger Delta.  The claims against Chevron are based on two incidents.  First, two protestors were shot by Nigerian military and police allegedly recruited by Chevron at its Parabe offshore platform.  Second, two Nigerian villages, Opia and Ikenyan, were attacked by Nigerian soldiers using helicopters and boats allegedly leased and/or owned by Chevron, and these attacks allegedly caused the death and injury of a number of villagers. 

In March of 2007, a federal judge dismissed the federal racketeering claims against Chevron, but the judge declined to dismiss the remaining nine claims made by the plaintiffs.  In August of 2007, a federal judge issued a series of decisions regarding Chevron's motions for summary judgment.  The judge's orders narrowed the lawsuit,but the plaintiffs' central claims regarding Chevron's complicity in human rights violations were allowed to stand.  On 1 December 2008, the federal jury cleared Chevron of the charges in this case.  In March 2009, the federal judge denied the plaintiffs' request for a new trial, finding that the evidence presented at trial supported the jury's verdict.  The plaintiffs filed an appeal with the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in April 2009.  The Court of Appeals heard the appeal in June 2010.  In September 2010 the Court of Appeals issued a decision upholding the verdict of the trial court.  The plaintiffs petitioned the Supreme Court on 20 June 2011 asking the court to hear an appeal in this case.  In late April 2012 the Supreme Court declined to hear the appeal.

- "Chevron Reaches End of Torture Liability Suit",  Barbara Leonard, Courthouse New Service [USA], 23 Apr 2012
- "Verdict clearing Chevron is upheld", Bob Egelko, San Francisco Chronicle, 11 Sep 2010
- "Burden of proof at issue at Chevron-Nigeria appeal", Braden Reddall, Reuters, 14 Jun 2010
- "Chevron cleared in 1998 shootings at Nigerian oil platform", Richard Paddock, Los Angeles Times, 2 Dec 2008
- "US judge lets Chevron Nigeria lawsuit continue", Reuters, 16 Aug 2007

- "Chevron wins partial dismissal in Nigeria case", Associated Press, 14 Mar 2007
- “New Document Alleges Tie Between Chevron and Human Rights Abuses in Nigeria”, William Baue,, 12 Aug 2005

- “Chevron Paid Nigerian Troops After Alleged Killings”, David R. Baker, San Francisco Chronicle, 04 Aug 2005

- “ChevronTexaco Going To Trial”, Karen Gullo, Bloomberg News, 26 Mar 2004

- Bowoto v. Chevron - Hostage Taking Incident in Nigeria

Center for Constitutional Rights [plaintiffs’ counsel]:
- Bowoto v. Chevron [case synopsis]

Earthrights International [plaintiffs’ counsel]:
- Bowoto v. ChevronTexaco [includes links to certain court documents]
- [PDF] Bowoto, et al. v. Chevron Corporaton - Petition for Writ of Certiorari, 20 June 2011
- US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit: [PDF] Bowoto, et al. v. Chevron Corporation - Opinion, 10 Sep 2010 

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2 June 2008

Federal Judge Adds Torture and Cruel Treatment Claims to Upcoming Trial Against Chevron for Beating and Shooting of Nigerian Protestors

Author: EarthRights International

In a ruling issued late last Friday, United States District Court Judge Susan Illston held that the beating and shooting of Nigerian protestors at a Chevron offshore platform may constitute torture and cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment under international human rights law, expanding the upcoming trial in this case to include these claims.

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30 May 2008

[PDF] Bowoto v. Chevron Corporation: Order re Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment for the Remaining Federal Law Claims

Author: Judge Susan Ilston, US District Court for the Northern District of California

[Full text of order adding torture and ill treatment to the claims against Chevron in the upcoming trial of Bowoto v. Chevron.]

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29 May 2008

Chevron CEO slams critics at meeting [USA]

Author: David R. Baker, San Francisco Chronicle

Chevron Chief Executive Officer David O'Reilly slammed critics of the oil giant's human rights record at the annual shareholder meeting Wednesday, trading accusations with some of his company's most determined foes…. Inside the meeting, speakers from as far away as Africa told shareholders that Chevron has contaminated part of the Ecuadoran rain forest, subsidized the military regime in Burma and paid Nigerian soldiers who shot and killed protesters at a Chevron oil platform. Chevron's top executives rarely comment on these controversies, relying instead on lawyers and public relations specialists to present the company's views. But Wednesday's meeting was the scene of several blunt exchanges between the activists and O'Reilly. [also refers to Texaco, Petroecuador]

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29 May 2008

Chevron should pay

Author: Larry Bowoto [opinion], Los Angeles Times

Ten years ago this week, I was shot by Nigerian soldiers who, my federal lawsuit will show, were paid for by Chevron Nigeria Ltd., a subsidiary of Chevron Corp. I was standing on a drilling platform in the Niger Delta run by Chevron Nigeria Ltd. More than 100 unarmed villagers joined me there to protest the loss of our fish, our clean water and our trees because of Chevron's oil production activities in our region…. The lawsuit I (and others) filed in 1999 contends that Chevron Nigeria's own documents show that it paid for, transported and supervised Nigerian military and police forces that responded to our protests.

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28 May 2008

"Systemic" Human Rights Abuses Dominate Chevron Annual General Meeting, Casting Shadow over CEO and Record Profits

Author: Amazon Watch

In a dramatic face-to-face showdown at Chevron's annual general meeting, victims of the company's grave human rights abuses from three continents today told shareholders and senior executives that the oil major must live up to its corporate rhetoric on human rights and the environment, and also take decisive action to make amends to the communities it has devastated. Community representatives from Burma, Ecuador and Nigeria traveled for days to participate in the meeting as proxy shareholders, calling on Chevron CEO David O'Reilly to stop hiding behind lawyers and PR misinformation, and to recognize and rectify the suffering the company has caused. [also refers to Texaco, PetroEcuador]

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28 May 2008

Chevron profits shadowed by human rights complaints

Author: Amanda Beck, Reuters

Despite higher profits on record oil prices, the board of directors at Chevron Corp, the No. 2 U.S. petroleum producer, was lambasted at the company's annual meeting Wednesday. Shareholders and activists urged company officials to take responsibility for the environmental and human costs of oil production. They harangued the board on a range of human rights abuses in such countries as Ecuador, Nigeria and Myanmar. [also refers to PetroEcuador]

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29 April 2008

Watchdog group says Chevron complicit in Myanmar

Author: Michael Erman, Reuters

A human rights watchdog group on Tuesday accused Chevron Corp of complicity in human rights abuses along a natural gas pipeline in Myanmar in which it holds a stake and said Chevron could be sued. EarthRights International claimed in a report issued on Tuesday that Myanmar's army has in recent years committed serious abuses including rape and murder while providing security for the pipeline that moves gas from the Yadana gas field, located offshore in the Andaman Sea... Chevron said it strongly disagreed with the report. "The allegations of human rights abuses associated with the project are baseless," spokesman Kurt Glaubitz said in a statement. Yadana "helps meet the energy needs of people in the region, supports critical health, education and infrastructure programs, and serves as a positive influence in the country," he said... [also refers to Total, PTT, Myanmar Oil & Gas Enterprise]

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9 April 2008

$16 billion environmental lawsuit tests Chevron

Author: Kelly Hearn, Christian Science Monitor

The case filed by Ecuadorean indigenous groups is one of the largest environmental suits against an oil firm and could set a precedent. Chevron dismisses it as a 'charade.'... Richard Cabrera, a court-appointed expert...poured fuel on an epic environmental lawsuit filed by Ecuadorean indigenous groups against...Chevron-Texaco... Mr. Cabrera...recommended to an Ecuadorean judge last Tuesday that Chevron pay $8 billion to $16 billion for environmental damages if the company loses a bitterly contested case that started in 1993 with a lawsuit in New York courts, which ruled that the case should be tried in Ecuador... Chevron...attacked the report and its author. "We consider the report null and void because it is the result of irregular processes that do not conform with court orders," Ricardo Reis Veiga, managing counsel for Chevron Latin America, said in a telephone interview. [also refers to lawsuits against Unocal (now part of Chevron) re Burma, Chevron re Nigeria, Occidental re Peru]

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12 March 2008

Nigerians pull half of claims in Chevron suit

Author: Bob Egelko, San Francisco Chronicle

Nigerian villagers who are suing Chevron Corp. in a San Francisco federal court have quietly moved to withdraw half of their claims that the oil company was responsible for military attacks on protesters in the late 1990s. In papers filed last week, plaintiffs' lawyers, without explanation, asked a federal judge to dismiss claims by 25 Nigerians over a January 1999 attack on villages near oil facilities in the Niger Delta where residents had protested pollution. In their lawsuit, the plaintiffs had said government troops, using a helicopter and boats supplied by Chevron, killed at least four unarmed people and burned two villages to the ground. The dismissal does not affect the rest of the case, which is scheduled for trial in September... Chevron...denies any role in the Nigeria attacks and challenges the plaintiffs' description of themselves as peaceful demonstrators...[saying the] incident...was "a violent occupation of private property by aggressors seeking to extort cash payments from the company"...

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17 August 2007

To Avoid Risk of Alien Tort Claims Act Cases, Companies Must Improve Human Rights

Author: Bill Baue, SocialFunds

The first-ever corporate ATCA verdict of not guilty does not diminish the ongoing liabilities companies face in US courts for human rights violations committed overseas. Late last month, a federal jury delivered the verdict in the first corporate Alien Tort Claims Act (ATCA) case to make it through trial, finding Drummond coal company not complicit in the 2001 murder of three union leaders at one of its mines in Colombia. Drummond’s reprieve may be temporary, however, as the plaintiffs filed appeals protesting the judge’s exclusion or limitation of eye-witness testimony...[also refers to Chevron, Chiquita, Coca-Cola, Exxon-Mobil, Firestone (part of Bridgestone), Shell, Wal-Mart]

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