Chevron in Ecuador

The archive of the Clean Up Ecuador campaign website

Statement of Stratus Consulting Regarding Chevron Countersuit

Stratus Consulting
3 February 2011

Chevron's claims against Stratus Consulting are false. Released on the eve of an impending judgment in Ecuador, Chevron's assertion of RICO claims against Stratus Consulting is a gross misuse of the federal courts. Stratus Consulting never engaged in the misconduct alleged by Chevron, and Chevron knows as much.

Background: Stratus Consulting (Stratus) was hired to provide technical assistance to attorneys representing a group of rural and indigenous Ecuadorians in their lawsuit in Ecuador against Chevron for large-scale environmental pollution damage in the Amazon rainforest. In the course of our work, we conducted technical analyses of Chevron's oilfield operations in Ecuador, the environmental contamination caused by those operations, and the resulting environmental impacts. Work on the project has been similar to the type of environmental assessments Stratus has routinely performed for its clients over the past two decades.

Chevron's RICO lawsuit is an abuse of the legal process. Chevron and its legal team are fully aware that Stratus had no involvement in any collusion or conspiracy. Stratus principals have already testified under oath that they have no knowledge of the activities that Chevron alleges, including the alleged collusion between the Ecuadorian plaintiffs and the government of Ecuador, the alleged attempts by the plaintiffs or their supporters to extort Chevron by pressing for criminal charges in Ecuador, or the alleged manufacturing of evidence. Stratus performed scientific and economic analyses and provided the results directly to our clients, which is our standard practice. Having already questioned Stratus staff on these very matters for 13 days in depositions, Chevron knows these facts but still claims otherwise.

The claim that Stratus Consulting "plotted" to "ghostwrite" the Cabrera report is demonstrably false. Stratus prepared reports and documentation and submitted them to our clients, the Ecuadorian plaintiffs' lawyers. The plaintiffs' lawyers subsequently gave these materials to Mr. Cabrera, a court-appointed expert, in keeping with the guidelines determined by the Ecuadorian court. The Ecuadorian court explicitly allowed the expert to use information provided to him directly by either the Ecuadorian plaintiffs or Chevron. The final Cabrera report totals 4,000 pages, out of which only approximately 200 pages rely on information submitted by Stratus to our clients. Chevron's assertions that Stratus "ghostwrote" a report when only 5% of that report relied on our work under a court-approved process is patently absurd. Chevron knows these facts but still claims otherwise.

Chevron purposely mischaracterizes Stratus Consulting's review of the Cabrera report. At the request of the plaintiffs' lawyers, Stratus reviewed portions of the court-appointed expert's report to determine if our findings were used appropriately and whether the remainder of his report was consistent with standard practice in our field of expertise. We concluded that the findings and analysis of the court-appointed expert were consistent with industry practices, and, to the extent that information supplied by Stratus was used, that information was used appropriately. Chevron knows these details about the purpose of Stratus' review but still deliberately mischaracterizes the review as improper.

That Chevron has knowingly filed a series of false charges against Stratus Consulting is reprehensible. It appears that Chevron's strategy is to use every possible tool – without regard to truth, facts or legal ethics – to confuse the issues surrounding its corporate history in Ecuador and avoid taking responsibility for its actions. Regrettably, this has included attempting to discredit the technical work performed by Stratus, not by addressing the technical facts and analysis themselves, but by concocting and publicly advancing a series of false accusations against us. Chevron's "scorched earth" approach to litigation appears to focus on using vast corporate resources to intimidate and wear down opposing views and to avoid and confuse the technical and factual realities of its actions in Ecuador.

Stratus stands by the quality of our work product and the integrity of our professional staff. Members of our senior leadership team are widely recognized both nationally and internationally as experts in their fields. Our senior staff have held staff positions at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, U.S. Geological Survey, and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration; have authored hundreds of peer-reviewed publications and presentations at national and international conferences; hold university appointments; have been appointed to serve on boards convened by the National Academy of Sciences and EPA's Science Advisory Board; have been recognized as part of the international panel that was awarded a Nobel Prize for its work on climate change; and are regularly invited to speak to national and international government agencies because of our technical expertise and reputation.