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
This Podcast
ABA Journal: Modern Law Library
ABA Journal: Modern Law Library

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

  iTunes   Google Play
More Episodes
07/19/17
Merriam-Webster editor shares the ‘secret life of dictionaries’

Kory Stamper talks about her work as a lexicographer and editor for Merriam-Webster.

07/05/17
Harper Lee Prize finalists discuss their novels, careers, and the first time they read ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’

An interview with 2017 Harper Lee Prize for Legal Fiction finalists, Jodi Picoult, Graham Moore, and James Grippando.

06/21/17
How government actions, not personal choices, created segregated neighborhoods

In this podcast episode, Richard Rothstein talks about his new book, The Color of Law: A Forgotten History of How Our Government Segregated America.

06/07/17
David Grann uncovers the deadly conspiracy behind murders of oil-rich Osage tribe members

David Grann talks about how he first learned of the murders that inspired his book "Killers of the Flower Moon: The Osage Murders and...

05/17/17
How a Chinese-American family challenged school segregation in 1920s Mississippi

Author of “Water Tossing Boulders: How a Family of Chinese Immigrants Led the First Fight to Desegregate Schools in the Jim Crow South” discusses...

05/03/17
The Crime of Complicity: Examining the Role of the Bystander in the Holocaust and Beyond

Amos Guiora discusses his new book, "The Crime of Complicity: The Bystander in the Holocaust" and addresses the bystander-victim relationship.