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Protect the Protest's second annual SLAPP Awards names Chevron as "corporate bully of the year"; incl. company response

Protect the Protest task force, a group of over 20 organisations combining their expertise to protect free speech, defend dissent, and stop strategic lawsuits against public participation (SLAPP), released its second annual SLAPP awards

These awards name Chevron as "corporate bully of the year" for the second year in a row, an award given to the corporation that has engaged in the most aggressive efforts to harass and intimidate critics. The Lawfare Project was awarded the "most outrageous SLAPP award" and Devin Nunes received the "belly flop award" for the most ridiculous SLAPP suit.

Business & Human Rights Resource Centre invited Chevron to respond to this allegation; it did. Amazon Watch sent a rejoinder to Chevron's response, to which Chevron responded, followed by another response by Amazon Watch. All responses are available below.

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All components of this story

NGO rejoinder
2 July 2020

Response from Amazon Watch to Chevron's response to its rejoinder

Author: Amazon Watch

Chevron’s claim that decisions by courts around the world “confirm that the fraudulent Ecuadorian judgment against Chevron should be unenforceable” is an outright falsehood - ... no court has made such a determination. The ONLY court to rule about the Ecuadorian verdict was judge Kaplan’s ruling which specifically notes that the plaintiffs are free to seek enforcement of the Ecuadorian judgment outside of the U.S. and it also indicated that it makes NO determination as to the actions of Texaco (Chevron) in Ecuador nor the contamination. 

... In response to Chevron’s claim that it was “released from all the environmental claims on which the fraudulent Ecuadorian judgment is based” through by international tribunal in The Hague... international arbitration is not a court system but a mechanism to allow corporations to sue and put pressure on governments... [T]the central claim of Chevron’s RICO SLAPP suit was bribery... [T]he only actual evidence... was the testimony of Alberta Guerra, who has since admitted to having lied for Chevron to receive more money... 

... The recent NY Bar referee recommendation that Steven Donziger have his law license immediately reinstated is a resounding rejection of Chevron’s claims that Donziger should be “repudiated by anyone concerned with the rule of law” unless of course Chevron believes that the NY State Bar is not concerned with the rule of law”... Donziger is being held in contempt for refusing to turn over his computer, phone, and online passwords to Chevron... 

Download the full document here

Company response
1 July 2020

Response from Chevron to Amazon Watch's rejoinder

Author: Chevron

Decisions by courts around the world (United States, Argentina, Brazil, Canada, Gibraltar and an international tribunal in The Hague) confirm that the fraudulent Ecuadorian judgment against Chevron should be unenforceable in any court that respects the rule of law. An international tribunal in The Hague - including an arbitrator chosen by the government of Ecuador - unanimously confirmed that, following completion of a $40-million environmental remediation program approved by the Ecuadorian government, Chevron was released from all the environmental claims on which the fraudulent Ecuadorian judgment is based. The plaintiffs’ own scientific experts and consultants have admitted that there is no scientific evidence to support their environmental claims.

... Donziger’s allegation has already been addressed in court. A meritorious lawsuit cannot be a SLAPP and Chevron’s lawsuit was held by the courts to be meritorious... In its 2014 decision, the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York ruled for Chevron, finding that Donziger committed a pattern of racketeering activity that included extortion, mail fraud, wire fraud, money laundering, witness tampering, obstruction of justice, and violations of the Travel Act and Foreign Corrupt Practices Act. The federal court held that Donziger and his associates obtained a $9.5 billion judgment against Chevron in Ecuador through fraud and racketeering.

... Donziger filed counterclaims against Chevron, which were rejected because they lacked any legal or factual merit. Donziger’s actions should be repudiated by anyone concerned with the rule of law... Chevron is not a party to the criminal case against Steven Donziger, which was initiated by the court. 

Download the full document here

NGO rejoinder
30 June 2020

Rejoinder from Amazon Watch

Author: Amazon Watch

Chevron admitted to deliberately dumping 16 billion gallons of toxic waste into the Ecuadorian Amazon for a profit, a fact it neglected to mention when responding to its SLAPPie award. Since being found liable for $9.5 billion for cleanup and health costs, no court in the world has exonerated the oil company for its acts in the Amazon, despite Chevron’s unprecedented forum shopping... During the course of Chevron’s decades long attempt to escape for paying to clean up its admitted crime, Chevron itself has been exposed as having participated in fraud, bribery, blackmail and other violations on top of its initial environmental and human rights crimes - which continue to poison the local communities in Ecuador to this day.

... The reason that Steven Donziger is being charged with criminal contempt is that Chevron, despite having won its now discredited RICO suit years ago, has continued to demand access to Donziger’s private information in an attempt to prevent his ongoing work to enforce the Ecuadorian judgment outside of the U.S... The Protect the Protest task force has already shared information about Chevron’s ongoing legal intimidation tactics against those who have supported Donziger’s efforts to seek justice for communities harmed by Chevron.”

Download the full document here

Company response
29 June 2020

Response from Chevron

Author: Chevron

Steven Donziger is an adjudicated racketeer. He committed criminal acts in the U.S. and abroad in pursuit of his extortion scheme in the Ecuadorian courts. Chevron did its part in exposing his numerous crimes, including fraud, bribery, blackmail and many other violations of federal racketeering and anti-corruption laws, in U.S. civil litigation from 2013 to 2016. He now stands accused of criminal contempt of U.S. federal court orders. Donziger’s continuing lawlessness is now a matter for prosecutors and the U.S. courts to decide. Chevron is not involved in Donziger’s criminal prosecution.

Download the full document here

25 June 2020

SLAPPies: Second annual SLAPP awards

Author: Protect the Protest

It was another busy year of legal intimidation, aggressive lawsuits, and bully tactics!... A SLAPP suit is a lawsuit aimed at silencing critics. Corporations and powerful people use this abusive tactic to intimidate activists and journalists with expensive, lengthy, and stressful litigation...

  • Chevron, The Corporate Bully of the Year Award... In 2019 Chevron elevated its efforts to escape responsibility for dumping billions of gallons of toxic oil waste in the Ecuadorian Amazon. The company used a SLAPP win to rewrite history denying ANY evidence of contamination and their continued efforts to silence the opposing lawyer, Steven Donziger included requesting the court force him to turn over his email password, computer and phone. Donziger refused, and despite lawfully appealing the order he has been held in pre-trial criminal contempt for over nine months.
  • Lawfare Project, Most Outreageous SLAPP Award... The Lawfare Project uses the court system to stifle constitutionally protected free speech related to Israel and Palestine worldwide...
  • Devin Nunes, Belly Flop Award: Awarded to the most ridiculous SLAPP lawsuit of the year... Rep. Nunes was so angered by a story in his hometown newspaper, the Fresno Bee, claiming that investors in a winery he partly owns partied with cocaine and prostitutes that he decided to sue them... [f]or $150 million... [H]e filed a defamation lawsuit against Twitter, Liz Mair, Mair Strategies LLC, and the Twitter accounts, “Devin Nunes’s Mom”... and “Devin Nunes’s Cow”..., seeking $250 million in damages (this case was just dismissed)... 

Read the full post here