Steven Donziger, the main instigator of the lawsuit against Chevron for activities of the oil producing Petroecuador / Texaco consortium TexPet in Ecuador to 1992 and before Chevron bought Texaco, what we call “Chevron Ecuador,” is in big trouble today after the consulting firm he selected to work on the case quit. The most damaging aspect of the action? The firm, Stratus Consulting, said that Steven Donziger “misled” them with information they now call “fatally tainted.” Moreover, it says deeply regrets its role in the case, and is now switching sides and joining the Chevron legal team.
Chevron recently settled pending fraud and extortion claims against Boulder, Colo’s Stratus, and as part of a larger lawsuit against Donziger, claiming fraud. Stratus Consulting had been the lead environmental consultant to Steven Donziger and his team of lawyers in the trial.
Can you say toasted? This is the second major firm to turn against Steven Donziger in the TexPet Ecuador issue, with Burford Capital, the company that invested in Steven’s litigation costs, being the first, as I talk about here:
The note Stratus Consulting’s Jody Jenning’s wrote is like a heat-seaking missile aimed right at the nose of Mr. Donziger:
Stratus Resolves Chevron Litigation
Firm was Misled by Ecuadorians’ Lead American Attorney Steven Donziger
BOULDER, Colorado – April 11, 2013 – Stratus Consulting Inc. announced today that Chevron has dismissed with prejudice the fraud and racketeering claims against Stratus and two of its employees that were initiated by Chevron Corp. on February 1, 2011 in the U.S. District Court of New York. Stratus is pleased that these claims have been fully and finally resolved.
Chevron’s lawsuit alleged racketeering and fraud claims against Steven Donziger, the Lago Agrio plaintiffs, Stratus, and others relating to the long-running environmental trial against Chevron in Lago Agrio, Ecuador. That trial resulted in an approximately $19 billion judgment against Chevron. Prior to the judgment, Stratus had been retained by Donziger, on behalf of the Lago Agrio plaintiffs, to serve as an environmental consultant. Stratus’s environmental consulting work for Donziger was used in a report submitted to the Ecuadorian court by the supposedly “independent” court expert Richard Cabrera as part of a process that Stratus has learned was tainted by Donziger and the Lago Agrio plaintiffs representatives’ “behind the scenes activities.”
“Stratus believes that the damages assessment in the Cabrera Report and the entire Cabrera process were fatally tainted and are not reliable. Stratus disavows the Cabrera Report, has agreed to cooperate fully and to provide testimony about the Ecuador litigation.”
“Stratus deeply regrets its involvement in the Ecuador litigation. We are delighted to have this matter behind us.”
Now, Stratus Consulting is on the Chevron legal team. In a press release issued today, Chevron said “Stratus Consulting has provided sworn declarations outlining the firm’s knowledge of the plaintiffs’ lawyers’ misconduct in the ongoing environmental litigation in Lago Agrio, Ecuador 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 key focus of Donziger’s claim, the Cabrera report, has been found to have not been the independent environmental consulting document showing harm done to Ecuador by TexPet, and instead has been revealed to have been, for all practical purposes, written by Donziger, or at least edited by him.
Stratus reps have made these points in court:
· “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…”
Walls Close Around Steven Donziger
It’s clear now that many of Mr. Donziger’s allies are running for cover, or switching sides and working against him, fearful of being caught up in an obvious fraud.