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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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12 August 2005

New Document Alleges Tie Between Chevron and Human Rights Abuses in Nigeria

Author: William Baue, SocialFunds.com

Identified in the discovery phase of a case proceeding at state and federal levels, the invoice and receipt indicate Chevron paid Nigerian soldiers for services on a day several villagers were allegedly killed... Rick Herz, [a] lawyer [for EarthRights International] representing the plaintiffs [said]..."One thing the invoice shows is that the soldiers were working on Chevron's behalf..." ..."We strongly disagree with the plaintiffs' attorneys' characterization of the receipt," Mr. Moore [Jeff Moore, Chevron spokesperson] told SocialFunds.com. "The receipt reflects a longstanding industry practice of paying a small amount for providing security to people and facilities in the Niger Delta." [also refers to Unocal]

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10 August 2005

Chevron documents show payments for attacks on Nigerian villages - As oil giant moves to take over Unocal, new evidences of human rights abuses

Author: EarthRights International

New documents discovered in a landmark human rights suit against oil giant Chevron Corp. reveal that Chevron's Nigerian subsidiary paid Nigerian soldiers who attacked the Nigerian villages of Opia and Ikenyan [in 1999], killing several people and burning the villages to the ground...

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4 August 2005

Chevron paid Nigerian troops after alleged killings - Villagers in lawsuit say 4 people died -- oil company questions if attacks took place

Author: David R. Baker, San Francisco Chronicle

Nigerian soldiers guarding Chevron oil rigs billed the company for $109.25 a day after they allegedly attacked two villages in the volatile country, killing four people and setting fire to homes. The company paid...To the villagers' lawyers, the invoice shows Chevron knew of the attacks and should be held accountable for them...The company disagrees. Chevron spokesman Charles Stewart said the company is not convinced that the attacks detailed by witnesses in the lawsuit even occurred. Chevron acknowledges it paid the soldiers but considers it as one of the regular payments it makes to soldiers guarding its facilities in a part of Nigeria known for piracy and ethnic combat..."What we're saying is, to the extent that there were any attacks -- because there's a lot of disagreement on this -- no Chevron Nigeria personnel were present or authorized any such attack," Stewart said.

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28 July 2005

[PDF] [Chevron response to AFL-CIO]

Author: Peter J. Robertson, Vice Chairman of the Board, Chevron

...I am unable to comment on the specifics of the pending litigation regarding the Parabe incident...It is our position that Chevron’s local affiliate was not responsible for the tragic events that occurred in Nigeria in May 1998. We welcome the opportunity to vigorously defend our actions and reputation in court...Let me now take this opportunity to respond to your questions on our approach to human rights, the progress we have made on our Human Rights Statement, and our business practices.

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22 July 2005

[PDF] [AFL-CIO letter to Chevron posing questions regarding human rights policy, Unocal merger, Nigeria lawsuit]

Author: Richard Trumka, Secretary-Treasurer, American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO)

...we would like to arrange a meeting to review: a) Chevron’s intentions regarding Unocal’s Burmese assets; b) Chevron’s approach to the use of security forces, particularly in the light of recent litigation related to human rights abuses by Nigerian military security forces hired by the Company; c) Chevron’s timeline for publishing its human rights policy, its implementation, monitoring and enforcement as well as the Company’s intentions regarding the integration of Unocal’s existing human and labor rights policies and guidelines.

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30 June 2005

Pirates of the Corporation - Holding American companies responsible for high crimes committed overseas

Author: Joshua Kurlantzick, Mother Jones

...attorneys have...[filed] ATCA [Alien Tort Claims Act] cases seeking to hold American companies responsible for abetting the worst crimes overseas—like torture, forced labor, and genocide...The [US] administration argues that the suits will damage America’s relations with other countries and impede the war on terror. In one letter obtained by Mother Jones, the State Department’s legal adviser...claimed that an ATCA suit against mining giant Rio Tinto’s operations in Papua New Guinea would damage “an important United States foreign policy objective”...[refers to cases brought against Unocal, Coca-Cola, ExxonMobil, Chevron (part of ChevronTexaco)]

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27 April 2005

ChevronTexaco critics band together

Author: Rick Jurgens, Contra Costa Times [USA]

Pollution in Ecuador by a company that Chevron later bought "may be tarnishing (the company's) hard-earned reputation"...said state Controller Steve Westly...ChevronTexaco says all pollution was cleaned up by a $40 million "remediation" completed in 1998...But critics of ChevronTexaco continue to gain support. [also refers to Texaco (now part of ChevronTexaco), Unocal]

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21 April 2005

A Big Win for Human Rights

Author: Daphne Eviatar, Nation [USA]

Experts say this case [Alien Tort Claims Act case in US courts against Unocal, alleging involvement in Burma abuses] and the settlement will have a broad impact on corporations and force them to consider their conduct overseas. [also refers to Shell, ChevronTexaco, Coca-Cola, ExxonMobil, Total]

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19 January 2005

The limits of human rights legislation [USA]

Author: Jonathan Birchall, Financial Times

Federal Judge John Sprizzo delivered what the US business community wanted to hear late last year when he ruled that international corporations could not be sued in his court over working in apartheid South Africa...But...the business community...suffered something of a set-back a few weeks later. In mid-December, Unocal, the US oil company, announced it had reached a decision in principle to settle Alien Tort litigation over alleged complicity in human rights abuses in Burma...corporate and human rights lobbyists are eyeing each other for signs of attempts by the business community to push for legislation to curtail the scope of the [Alien Tort] statute in the new US Congress..."I think a signal has been sent," says Mr [Owen] Pell [attorney who defended companies in apartheid lawsuit] of last summer's Supreme Court decision. "You companies are capable of knowing right from wrong...if you put yourselves on the side of wrong, then there is some room under this statute for you to get sued..." [also refers to ChevronTexaco, Shell, Talisman]

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30 November 2004

[PDF] executive summary: "Business and International Crimes: Assessing the Liability of Business Entities for Grave Violations of International Law"

Author: Fafo Institute for Applied Social Science & Intl. Peace Academy

It is possible to hold business entities accountable for international crimes...but the problem of jurisdiction remains a barrier to international prosecution...Domestic courts are possible venues for assessing liability of companies operating abroad...especially through the doctrine of complicity. [refers to Talisman, Rio Tinto, Unocal, Shell, Chevron (part of ChevronTexaco), ExxonMobil, Freeport-McMoRan, Cape plc]

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