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Occidental lawsuit (re Achuar communities contamination, Peru)

In 2007, residents from five communities in Peru filed a lawsuit in California state court against Los Angeles-based Occidental Petroleum, alleging the company contaminated their territory and water sources with oil. Occidental denied the claims. The parties reached an out-of-court settlement.  

Factual Background

Los Angeles-based Occidental Petroleum managed oil fields along the Corrientes River in Peru between 1971 and 2000. Residents from five Achuar communities living along the river alleged that Occidental contaminated their territory and water sources by inappropriately managing toxic products at one of their oil fields. 

Legal Argument

The plaintiffs claimed that the contamination in the Corrientes River and surrounding territory endangered their health, causing premature deaths and birth defects, as well as detrimentally affecting the livelihoods and environment of their communities. Occidental denied the claims.

Legal Proceeding

In 2007, the Achuar community residents filed a lawsuit in California state court against Occidental Petroleum. The case was removed to federal district court. 

In 2008, the court dismissed the case, ruling that it should be heard in Peru.  The plaintiffs appealed, and in 2010, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals reversed the lower court’s decision.  After several appeals and rehearing requests, in 2013 the US Supreme Court refused to hear an appeal from Occidental.  The case then reverted to the district court in Los Angeles for further proceedings.

Latest Update

In 2013, the parties reached an out-of-court settlement that was only revealed in March 2015, due to a confidentiality clause.  The plaintiffs stated that, through a trust, Occidental “will provide assistance for community development projects for the benefit of these five Achuar communities. All parties are satisfied with the resolution of this dispute.”

 

- “US Oil Major Settles Out Of Court In Amazon Pollution Case”, Andy Tully, Oilprice.com, 9 Mar 2015
- “Indigenous Peruvians win Amazon pollution payout from US oil giant”, Dan Collyns, Guardian (UK), 5 Mar 2015
- “Peruvian Oil Spill Case Makes New Waves in U.S”, Tim Hull, Courthouse News Service, 31 May 2012
- [ES] “Demanda indios peruanos contra Occidental se tramitará en EEUU”, Reuters, 7 de diciembre de 2010
- “LA Court Can Hear Peruvian Case Against Oil Giant”, Noaki Schwartz, Associated Press, 6 Dec 2010
- “Rumble in the jungle: Amazon pollution lawsuit leaves L.A. for Peru”, Lisa Richardson, on Los Angeles Times, 18 Apr 2008
- “Peruvians sue oil giant over Amazon pollution”, Dan Glaister, Guardian (UK), 11 May 2007
- [ES] “Indígenas peruanos demandan a la petrolera Oxy por contaminación”, EFE, 11 de mayo de 2007
- “Peru: Indigenous Community to Take Oil Company to Court”, Milagros Salazar, Inter Press Service, 21 Aug 2006
- [ES] “Petrolera podría ser demandada por contaminación”, Milagros Salazar, Inter Press Service, 16 de agosto de 2006

Occidental Petroleum:
- “Engagement in practice

EarthRights International [Plaintiffs’ representatives]:
- “Peruvian Indigenous Communities Pleased with Settlement of Pollution Lawsuit Against Occidental Petroleum”, 5 Mar 2015
- “Maynas v. Occidental
- [ES] “Comunidades indígenas peruanas satisfechas con el acuerdo de la demanda contra la contaminación de Occidental Petroleum”, 5 de marzo de 2015
- "Indigenous Peruvians Win Appeal in Federal Lawsuit Against Occidental Petroleum for Contaminating Amazon Rainforest, Poisoning Communities”, AmazonWatch & EarthRights International, 6 Dec 2010
- “Indigenous Achuar Face Off Against Occidental Petroleum in Amazon Pollution Case”, 8 Mar 2010
- “Indigenous Peruvians Sue Occidental Petroleum”, 10 May 2007

- “Carijano, et al. v. Occidental Petroleum Corporation – Order”, US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, 31 May 2012
- “Maynas Carijano, et al. v. Occidental Petroleum Corp., et al. - Order and Opinion”, US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, 1 Jun 2011
- “Maynas Carijano, et al. v. Occidental Petroleum Corporation, et al. – Opinion”, US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, 6 Dec 2010
- “Carijano, et al. v. Occidental Petroleum Corporation – Order”, US District Court Central District of California, 15 Apr 2008

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