The Ecuador lawsuit against Chevron contains new mistakes, the company charges, while it again rebukes the court investigator.
BY CHRONICLE STAFF
Chevron today asked a judge in Ecuador to drop a $27 billion lawsuit, citing new and old errors by the court-appointed expert, Richard Cabrera. “Judging by Mr. Cabrera’s undeniable disdain for science, transparency and Ecuadorian law, he cannot be seen as an unbiased adviser to the judge,” Charles James, Chevron’s general counsel, said in a statement. “Through his ongoing collaboration with parties who stand to benefit from this lawsuit, we believe that Mr. Cabrera has knowingly abandoned his obligations to the court and assumed the role of advocate for plaintiffs’ counsel.”
In addition to previous mistakes, Cabrera has introduced a series of new ones, Chevron charges.
- Recommending more than $9 billion in damages associated with “excess cancer deaths” without identifying a single victim, let alone providing any corroborating documentation such as a death certificate or a medical diagnosis.
- Recommending more than $3 billion in damages associated with groundwater contamination even though his own data clearly indicate no such contamination exists, and Cabrera acknowledges that he has no basis for devising a remediation plan or developing a cost estimate. Rather, Cabrera simply adopts plaintiffs’ counsel’s demands to assess damages and repackages them as fact.
- Conceding that his work was conducted in such a fashion as to assign blame to Chevron instead of performing an objective and unbiased scientific analysis of current environmental conditions, as the court had ordered.
“An extraordinarily disturbing pattern has emerged with respect to Mr. Cabrera. The court appointee’s work and plaintiffs’ counsel’s demands read like two parts of the same script,” James says. “It is clear that Mr. Cabrera’s reports are produced for an ulterior purpose by persons interested in exploiting this lawsuit for an unwarranted and utterly disproportionate financial windfall. If for no other reason than to preserve its own credibility, the court must intervene before this farce proceeds further.”
Chevron also accuses Cabrera of directly using plaintiff's information as evidence, pointing to these statements from plaintiffs’ counsel on September 16, 2008: “Therefore the cost analysis to remediate to 1000 ppm of TPH as stated in Attachment N calculates a cost that is lower than the actual one in order to achieve this level of cleanliness (even though it should be taken into account that 1000 ppm of TPH is not adequate level of cleanliness, as previously mentioned). The real cost to remediate the soils to 1000 ppm of TPH is approximately $2,034,000,000.” (emphasis added).
Tow months later -- on November 26, 2008 -- Cabrera wrote: “Therefore my analysis to remediate to 1000 ppm of TPH as stated in Attachment N calculates a cost that is lower than the actual one in order to achieve this level of cleanliness (even though it should be taken into account that 1000 ppm of TPH is not adequate level of cleanliness, as previously mentioned). Using my revised calculations the real cost to remediate the soils to 1000 ppm of TPH is approximately $2,034,000,000.” (emphasis added)
Chevron also point out that Cabrera has declined to explain or deny his connection to representatives of the Amazon Defense Coalition, the financial beneficiary of the lawsuit. "Photographs and video demonstrate that members of the Amazon Defense Coalition directly participated in Cabrera’s “independent” data collection, and the organization exclusively funded his work," the oil company says in the statement.
Meanwhile, the social survey that provides the evidentiary foundation of one-third of Cabrera’s total damage assessment was produced at the request of and funded by the Amazon Defense Coalition, Chevron charges. "When asked to testify under oath to explain this relationship, Cabrera refused to show up or to comment, illustrating that the court’s “independent” appointee has violated his mandate and is working in collaboration with the plaintiffs’ advocates," Chevron says.
© Copyright Latin Business Chronicle