Your Host
Lee Rawles

Lee Rawles joined the ABA Journal in 2010 as a web producer. She has also worked for the Winston-Salem...

In February 2011, an Ecuadorean court found the Chevron Corporation liable for environmental damage caused by oil-drilling activities in the rainforest region El Oriente in the 1970s and 1980s. Chevron, which in 2001 purchased Texaco (the company which had actually operated the oil wells), was ordered to pay $19 billion to the class-action plaintiffs who brought the suit. These plaintiffs, a collection of small farmers and indigenous peoples, had the support of a team of Ecuadorean and American attorneys, including the charismatic Steven Donziger. Donziger, a media-savvy graduate of Harvard Law, had helped them gain the support of variety of environmentalists and celebrities.

Although it is tempting to fit this into a simple narrative–either “scrappy band of lawyers wins enormous victory for oppressed people against an evil corporation” or “responsible corporation preyed upon by voracious plaintiffs attorneys over scurrilous accusations”–the truth just isn’t that simple. And the $19 billion verdict was far from the end of this story.

“When you combine the rainforest, multinational oil company and indigenous tribespeople, most people think they know the story with just those three facts,” said Paul M. Barrett, author of the new book 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. “Life is always more complicated than that.”

Barrett first reported on this case when he wrote a profile of Donziger for Bloomberg Businessweek, where he is assistant managing editor and a senior writer. In this Modern Law Library podcast, he discusses with moderator Lee Rawles the wild twists and turns this case has taken, both before the verdict and afterwards.

As of this publication, legal battles are still being fought as accusations of fraud, forgery, bribery and conspiracy have been leveled against Donziger and the rest of the plaintiffs’ legal team. And as Barrett explains, the result of those battles could have severe and wide-ranging effects for all class-action lawsuits against major corporations.

Episode Details
Published: January 28, 2015
Podcast: ABA Journal: Modern Law Library
Category: Intellectual Property , Legal News
Podcast
ABA Journal: Modern Law Library
ABA Journal: Modern Law Library

ABA Journal: Modern Law Library features top legal authors and their works.

Listen & Subscribe
  Apple Podcasts
  Google Play
More Episodes
11/07/18
Ken Starr shares his side of the Clinton investigation in ‘Contempt’

Ken Starr talks about his book "Contempt: A Memoir of the Clinton Investigation," which unveiled the salacious details of President Bill Clinton's affair with...

10/24/18
How to stop worrying and learn to love data-driven law

Ed Walters talks about his book, “Data-Driven Law: Data Analytics and the New Legal Services" which discusses data informs and the aspects of modern...

10/10/18
We need to talk about abortion, says author of ‘Scarlet A’

Katie Watson talks about her book, “Scarlet A: The Ethics, Law & Politics of Ordinary Abortion”, and discusses ways to have productive conversation about...

09/19/18
How to be (sort of) happy in law school

Kathryne M. Young talks about her book, How to Be Sort of Happy in Law School, which talks about what alumni would advise their...

08/22/18
Can you become a better lawyer in 5 minutes a day? This author thinks so

Jeremy Richter on why he decided to channel energy into blogging during the early years of his practice as an insurance litigator.

07/25/18
What would it mean to impeach a president?

Joshua Matz discusses his book "To End a Presidency: The Power of Impeachment" and why he believes that the partisan use of impeachment rhetoric...