Amazon Defense Coalition
12 April 2013 - FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Karen Hinton at +1.703.798.3109
The decision by the environmental consulting firm Stratus to settle its legal dispute with Chevron and to criticize lawyers for the affected people in Ecuador represents a triumph of money and power over justice, the lead attorney for the 20-year-long case brought against Chevron in Ecuador said today.
"Unfortunately, the U.S. judicial system often favors the people who have the most money. Chevron and its expensive team of lawyers literally overwhelmed this small consulting firm and threatened it with ruin, in order to get them to disassociate from the case in which their objective scientific findings played a part," said Pablo Fajardo, in a statement from Quito, Ecuador.
But Stratus' findings remain part of the legal record based on their repeated visits to the Amazon region of Ecuador, where they toured the damaged site, and saw the oil on the ground and in the water. They also saw how Chevron's negligence poisoned the soil and drinking water and affected the health and lives of thousands of residents of the region. Stratus already has testified that Chevron did not take proper cautions or remediation efforts, Fajardo said.
Craig Smyser, the Houston attorney who represents the Ecuadorians who are named in Chevron's New York lawsuit, made this statement:
"Chevron gets testimony two ways: they pay for it or they intimidate people until they give in. Here, we are sorry to say, Chevron bullied Stratus until Stratus had no choice but to succumb: the firm was faced with financial extinction after Chevron engaged in the defamation of Stratus to agencies Stratus did business with – all of which is set out in Stratus' suit against Chevron.
"Stratus has testified, in U.S. courts, that it backs its science detailing the pollution and contamination of the Ecuadorian rain forest. Although the settlement agreement Chevron extracted from Stratus prohibits Stratus for a period of 20 years from any environmental consulting that might even involve Chevron and imposes a gag order on Stratus with respect to public statements about "the factual or scientific validity or accuracy of all or any part of the Cabrera report", we are confident Stratus will testify truthfully about these topics.
"Less than three months ago, Stratus filed papers in court that said in no uncertain terms that justice was done in the Ecuadorian litigation:
Chevron knows that based on scientific data collected during the Lago Agrio litigation, including data collected by Chevron, Stratus actually found that contamination was present at every single well site and station that was sampled, and that the areas contaminated by oilfield operations requiring cleanup included over 900 oilfield pits, 356 well sites, 22 oil processing stations, and additional areas of spilled oil-a huge amount of environmental damage costing immense sums to remediate.
"We are confident Stratus will stand by the statements it made in court and to the public, including those on CBS' 60 Minutes, detailing the science of Chevron's pollution in the Ecuadorian rain forest."