Law of the Jungle: The $19 Billion Legal Battle Over Oil in the Rain Forest and the Lawyer Who'd Stop at Nothing to Win

By Paul M. Barrett

The gripping tale of 1 American lawyer's obsessive crusade--waged at any cost--against immense Oil on behalf of the bad farmers and indigenous tribes of the Amazon rainforest.

Steven Donziger, a self-styled social activist and Harvard expert attorney, signed directly to a budding type motion lawsuit opposed to multinational Texaco (which later merged with Chevron to develop into the third-largest company in America). The swimsuit sought reparations for the Ecuadorian peasants and tribes humans whose lives have been tormented by a long time of oil construction close to their villages and fields. in the course of 20 years of felony hostilities in federal courts in ny and distant provincial tribunals within the Ecuadorian jungle, Donziger and Chevron's attorneys fierce no-holds-barred ideas. Donziger, a larger-than-life, loud-mouthed showman, proved himself a grasp orchestrator of the media, Hollywood, and public opinion. He cajoled and coerced Ecuadorian judges at the concept that his noble ends justified any technique of persuasion. And in spite of everything, he gained an not likely victory, a $19 billion judgment opposed to Chevron--the largest environmental damages award in heritage. however the corporation refused to give up or compromise. as an alternative, Chevron distinct Donziger in my view, and its counter-attack printed damning facts of his politicking and manipulation of facts. without warning the decision, and many years of Donziger's single-minded pursuit of the case, started to get to the bottom of.

Written with the feel and aptitude of the easiest narrative nonfiction, Law of the Jungle is an unputdownable tale within which there are numerous sufferers, an unlimited quarter of ruined rivers and polluted rainforest, yet only a few heroes.

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The answer, in his view, used to be to offer no sector and grind down any competition. James took those concerns in my opinion. He occasionally advised an anecdote approximately how, as a tender legal professional engaged on the workers of the Federal exchange fee, he and his “bureaucratic buddies” contemplated the way to reply to a congressional mandate to divide up the seven dominant oil manufacturers into smaller businesses with much less financial and political energy. “The incontrovertible fact that none folks knew whatever in regards to the oil businesses or the or anything, or had no stake or funding in it, didn’t hassle us at all,” he recalled with self-deprecating scorn. The venture by no means acquired off the floor, however the adventure, he acknowledged, “helped form my very powerful worry approximately what occurs while humans begin interfering within the monetary realm. ” the single scoundrels extra deplorable than regulators, in James’s view, have been plaintiffs’ legal professionals. “I learn an article the day past at the helpful social position of plaintiffs’ lawyers,” he acknowledged as soon as in an interview. “I laughed after which I threw up. the very fact of the problem is litigation is rarely the way to get acceptable societal effects. ” James observed Aguinda as a clear shakedown. Compromising within the face of extortion, he believed, invited extra extortion. James, who shaved his head shiny-bald and lifted weights as a pastime, had a macho streak now not not like Donziger’s. Blustery and profane, he stood out within the hushed, carpeted hallways of the fourth ground of Chevron’s construction A in San Ramon, the place the main strong executives had their places of work. The Chevron campus, with its gracious courtyards and open air walkways, resembled a liberal arts university greater than a company headquarters. James, even though, reminded his colleagues along with his in-your-face perspective that they did company in a adverse international of liberal trial legal professionals and buyer advocates. “The approach to defuse those controversies,” James stated, pertaining to Ecuador, “is to win those situations. we expect our checklist as a firm is an excellent one. ” whereas he had deemed it fullyyt applicable for the Justice division to settle with Microsoft (in a case, to be reasonable, that James by no means may have initiated), he wouldn’t listen of settling with the Aguinda plaintiffs. To him, Texaco had already resolved its criminal legal responsibility within the mid-1990s with the govt of Ecuador. In trade for its partial cleanup of the waste pits, Texaco had obtained the discharge from Quito. Years later, in response to James, Chevron had “a accountability to its shareholders to not pay for frivolous proceedings. ” If blame rested wherever, James argued, it used to be at the shoulders of Petroecuador. The country oil corporation had slightly started to remediate the two-thirds of the websites it used to be contractually obliged to handle. moreover, Petroecuador had drilled greater than seven-hundred new wells considering the fact that Texaco’s ouster, in comparison with the 322 the previous consortium operated within the Nineteen Seventies and Nineteen Eighties. The Ecuadorian corporation ran its construction, separation, and pipeline websites in a fashion that can charitably be defined as inattentive.

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