The environmental consulting firm that provided the evidence which led to a $19 billion judgment against Chevron in Ecuador has disavowed its work and is now joining the Chevron legal team to fight the false charges against the oil company promoted by lead plaintiffs’ attorney Steven Donziger, Chevron announced today.
Stratus Consulting of Boulder, Colo., has provided sworn declarations outlining the firm’s knowledge of the plaintiffs’ lawyers’ misconduct in the Lago Agrio, Ecuador litigation as well as testifying that there is no scientific merit to the plaintiffs’ damages claims against Chevron Corp. (NYSE: CVX) and Texaco Petroleum (TexPet).
“We are pleased that Stratus came forward to reveal the truth. We call on others with knowledge of the fraud tainting the trial in Ecuador to come forward and do the right thing,” said Hewitt Pate, Chevron vice president and general counsel.
The legal case against Chevron is spearheaded by plaintiffs’ attorney Steven Donziger and two Ecuadorians Luis Yanza and Pablo Fajardo. They used manipulated data and alleged bribery to win a judgment in Ecuador for $19 billion against Chevron.
For years, Donziger, Yanza and Fajardo were honored for challenging the oil company and demanding that it pay for alleged pollution in the Amazon region of Ecuador. Yanza and Fajardo were awarded the Goldman Environmental Prize in San Francisco in 2008.
Now, the tables have turned as more evidence mounts the case by Donziger, Yanza and Fajardo is a fraud, whose story was promoted by publicist Karen Hinton (now of Mercury Public Affairs in Washington, D.C.) to the media–even resulting in a Hollywood movie, “Crude: The True Cost of Oil.”
Hinton and others were shills for Donziger’s fraud, perhaps the biggest con since Bernard Madoff was exposed.
It was the movie “Crude,” by Joe Berlinger, that propelled Chevron’s ability to show the lawsuit was a fraud. Chevron attorneys won the right to outtakes, which provided the first evidence to demonstrate the collusion and false data in the lawsuit against it. Berlinger and his film have since been discredited.
Since that time, judges, environmental experts and funders of Donziger’s lawsuit have disavowed their work and admitted they were misled or paid by the plaintiffs for their ‘independent’ testimony.
Today, in sworn declarations (here and here), Stratus details the role the firm and the plaintiffs’ lawyers played in drafting the supposedly independent damages report of Richard Cabrera, which serves as an evidentiary basis of the 2011 judgment against Chevron in Ecuador. Testimony also provides a direct account of lead plaintiffs’ lawyer Steven Donziger’s control of the “Cabrera Report” process and the pressure Donziger applied to contrive damages attributed to Chevron. In filings submitted in the Southern District of New York today, Stratus’s representatives state:
• “Stratus is not aware of any scientific evidence that people in the former concession area are drinking water contaminated with petroleum.”
• “At no time while working on the Ecuador Project did I see any data supporting a finding of groundwater contamination from TexPet operations…”
• “I am not aware of any scientific data that shows that any adverse health effects are caused by contamination from petroleum operations in the Oriente.”
• “…the conclusion that there were 1,400 ‘excess cancer’ deaths near the oil operations area is invalid and unsupported.”
• “I am not aware of any credible scientific evidence that supports the statement that cancer rates were up to 30 times higher than normal, or that the incidence of childhood leukemia was found to have reached alarming levels.”
• “I am not aware of credible scientific evidence that more than 9,000 people in the area of oil operations in Ecuador are going to contract cancer in the coming decades or that links any such incidence to oil operations.”
• “I am not aware of any credible scientific evidence that supports the statement that TexPet’s operation of the concession ravaged thousands of square miles of once-pristine rainforest, that it poisoned the environment of tens of thousands of people, or that it decimated indigenous tribes who lived in the region.”
• “I disavow any and all findings and conclusions in all of my reports and testimony on the Ecuador Project. I deeply regret that I allowed myself and my company to be used in the Lago Agrio Litigation in the way that we were…”
Stratus is the latest instance of individuals and groups formerly aligned with the plaintiffs either accusing the plaintiffs’ lawyers of fraud or providing firsthand accounts of corruption tainting the trial and judgment. In January, a former Ecuadorian judge came forward to admit his role in orchestrating the fraudulent judgment against Chevron. It was also revealed that Burford Capital, one of the largest financial backers of the plaintiffs, accused the plaintiffs’ lawyers of fraud and other misconduct in connection with their pursuit of their case. In December, a former environmental consultant to the plaintiffs came forward with additional proof of fraud and the fabrication of evidence on the part of the plaintiffs’ lawyers.