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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, SocialFunds.com, 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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16 August 2007

US judge lets Chevron Nigeria lawsuit continue

Author: Reuters

A U.S. judge ruled that a lawsuit claiming Chevron Corp. violated human rights in Nigeria should proceed, throwing out some charges against the U.S. oil company but leaving the centerpiece of the plaintiffs' case intact.

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15 August 2007

Rulings on Chevron's Summary Judgment Motions

Author: Marco Simons, EarthRights

Chevron...filed three motions directed at particular sets of claims: one generally against plaintiffs' claims such as assault and wrongful death, another one directed at plaintiffs claims for human rights abuses under the Alien Tort Statute (ATS), and one against plaintiffs' claim under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO). In Order No. 1640, the court rejected the first of these, allowing claims for wrongful death, assault, negligence, and the like to proceed to trial. In Order No. 1601, the court granted Chevron's efforts to dismiss the RICO claim. In Order No. 1637, the court also granted dismissal of plaintiffs' claim for crimes against humanity, one of the ATS claims, but in Order No. 1636, the court reconsidered and reversed its earlier dismissal of plaintiffs' other ATS claims, including torture and extrajudicial execution.

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27 July 2007

Labor Undeterred by Drummond Verdict

Author: Jay Reeves, Associated Press

After more than a decade of trying…to punish U.S. corporations for alleged wrongdoing overseas, organized labor lost the first such case ever to go before a jury… [L]awyers for both labor and corporate interests say rulings on appeals stemming from the trial may be more important in the long run than the verdict itself…. Families of the dead men and their union alleged the company was behind the gunshot killings by paramilitary forces. Jurors sided with Alabama-based Drummond, which denied any involvement with the killings or with militia forces. [also refers to Chevron]

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7 June 2007

Suit against Chevron gets go-ahead [USA]

Author: Bob Egelko, San Francisco Chronicle

Chevron Corp. can be sued in a U.S. court for a subsidiary's alleged collusion with the Nigerian government in attacks that killed and wounded villagers protesting the oil company's practices, a federal judge in San Francisco has ruled…. Chevron did not comment on the ruling but criticized the suit. "The lawsuit is brought by Nigerian militants who took over Chevron's offshore barge and drilling platform, holding more than 100 hostages for three days…,'' the company said…."We continue to believe the Nigerians have no basis in fact or in law to claim that their rights were violated when government forces rescued the hostages.''

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17 April 2007

Stocks With Scruples

Author: S.J. Caplan, Motley Fool [USA]

[overview of socially responsible investing, with recent developments involving Walgreen, Starbucks, Ford, Chiquita, Chevron, Pepsi Bottling Group, AT&T, Coca-Cola, Verizon, Xerox, ConEd (Con Edison), JPMorgan Chase; positive steps by Bank of America, Hershey, Barrick Gold, Coca-Cola, Marriott, HP]

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14 March 2007

Chevron wins partial dismissal in Nigeria case

Author: Associated Press

A federal judge in California threw out a racketeering claim against Chevron Corp. filed by Nigerians who claimed the oil company conspired with the military and police to gun down demonstrators protesting their operations... While the racketeering charge did not apply, [Judge] Illston acknowledged evidence showed that Chevron played a role in the subsidiary's security policies, approved payments to the military and attempted to cover up the subsidiary's involvement in the attacks. The ruling did not affect other pending accusations that...Chevron committed crimes against humanity under international law and eight related offenses under California law... Chevron lawyers have said the protesters were armed youths who demanded money and took more than 200 workers hostage. They were shot during an attempt to rescue the hostages.

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14 March 2007

Federal Judge Finds That Chevron Covered Up Role in Human Rights Abuses in Nigeria

Author: EarthRights International

United States District Court Judge Susan Illston issued an order today finding evidence that Chevron covered up its role in human rights abuses in Nigeria, and was involved in paying the brutal Nigerian military during the years of military dictatorship... Nine Nigerian plaintiffs sued Chevron in federal court in San Francisco in 1999 for deaths and other abuses in two incidents in 1998 and 1999, in which Nigerian military and police using Chevron helicopters and boats shot and tortured protestors... The judge found that there was evidence that Chevron had assisted its Nigerian subsidiary, known as “CNL,” in these operations... [also refers to settled lawsuit against Unocal (now part of Chevron)]

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12 December 2006

Dirty Oil: How it Pollutes Politics and Subverts Human Rights - An African Petroleum Tale: Nigeria

Author: Extract from "'All that Glitters', chapter four in "Lives Per Gallon: The True Cost of Our Oil Addiction", by Terry Tamminen, former Secretary of the California Environmental Protection Agency and current Special Advisor to California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, in E/The Environmental Magazine

Nigerians have filed suit against ChevronTexaco, alleging the oil giant’s responsibility for deaths of...villagers...at the hands of armed thugs...ChevronTexaco doesn’t deny that it hired the Nigerian military and police officers responsible for the killings, but it claims that it did not authorize the use of deadly force. The lawsuit is scheduled to go to trial in late 2006, and a class-action lawsuit will be heard in 2007...Shell...lost a court battle in Nigeria in early 2006 over pollution on the Niger River delta and must pay local tribes $1.5 billion. Shell has indicated that it will appeal...The U.S. State Department issued a scathing report in 2003 on human rights and democratic conditions in Kazakhstan, but after a month of intense lobbying from oil companies, the Bush administration certified that the Nazarbayev regime had shown “significant improvement” in human rights...

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1 December 2006

[PDF] Extraterritorial Jurisdiction as a tool for improving the Human Rights Accountability of Transnational Corporations

Author: Professor Olivier de Schutter, Catholic Univ. of Louvain & College of Europe

This report was prepared...as the background paper to the seminar...[held] on 3-4 November 2006 within the mandate of prof. J. Ruggie, the Special Representative to the UN Secretary General on the issue of human rights and transnational corporations and other enterprises... This paper examines under which conditions States may – or should – exercise extraterritorial jurisdiction in order to improve the accountability of transnational corporations domiciled under their jurisdiction for human rights abuses they commit overseas. [refers to human rights lawsuits against Chevron, RTZ, Cape PLC]

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12 September 2006

Talisman Released From Genocide Case [USA/Sudan]

Author: Larry Neumeister, Associated Press

A judge dismissed a Canadian energy company [Talisman Energy] from a lawsuit that alleged it aided genocide in its pursuit of oil in Sudan, saying Tuesday the plaintiffs had failed to find evidence against it that could be used in a U.S. court... The lawsuit...was brought in 2001 by the Presbyterian Church of Sudan on behalf of...residents of southern Sudan who suffered injuries during six years of a decades-long conflict... The judge added that her conclusion "does not reflect a finding that the plaintiffs and their neighbors did not suffer great harms, or that the Republic of Sudan did not engage in gross violations of international law..."... The judge said the plaintiffs were hampered in gathering evidence because Talisman did not have an operational presence in the Sudan; neither the Sudanese government nor the consortium that ran oil exploration activities cooperated... [also refers to lawsuit against Chevron regarding Nigeria]

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