‘No Good Deed Goes Unpunished’ (Part 2 of 2)
“You have a new form of business now for trial lawyers which is that they now go to foreign locations and try to root up and play off plaintiffs under circumstances under which legal systems are less well-developed and then try to export those judgments to the United States,” said Charles A. James, executive vice president and chief legal counsel for Chevron Corporation.
James shared the opinions above during a conference call with bloggers one day prior to an anti-Chevron protest set to take place tomorrow outside the company’s San Ramon, Calif., headquarters as a meeting of company shareholders takes place inside. Protesters will claim that Texaco, which was purchased by Chevron in 2001, left an “Amazon Chernobyl” behind in the form of environmental pollution after it ceased operations in the South American country in 1990.
During the conference call, James outlined Chevron’s experience with this “new form of business.”
“You might recall that what transpired here was the lawyer who started this case was a fellow by the name of Cristobal Bonifaz,” James said. “At some point, Mr. Bonifaz lost the confidence of his clients and was removed from the case and, fearing he wouldn’t be a part of the financial bonanza, he went ahead and tried to file his own case — this time a cancer claim.
“When it was brought to the United States, we were able at the very early stages,” James continued, “to demonstrate to the judge’s satisfaction through deposition and other means that (A) his clients didn’t have cancer and (B) the people he purported to be his clients had never authorized him to represent him in the United States or elsewhere. The court then went ahead and sanctioned Mr. Bonifaz and the other lawyers who were involved in the case.
“Now, as I said before, as we go forward, from our standpoint, anything is on the table in terms of contesting a judgment here,” James concluded. “We do have the legal issue, as you well know, of exhaustion — that is to say that it’s hard to assert things just on the portent that they will happen. You actually have to have things happen.
“Right now, this thing is on the front page but in the middle of the field, so to speak. As the thing gets closer to the goal line, you will start seeing more aggressive and more proactive legal actions on our part.”
* * *
To learn more about the ADC’s spurious lawsuit against Chevron in Ecuador, read the Bob McCarty Writes posts found here.