Chevron tries to steal $485,000 from Nigerian Villagers

root - Posted on 07 October 2009

Judge rules against Chevron

by From

San Francisco, CA - Judge Susan Illston, on Wednesday, denied Chevron Corp’s request to recoup over $485,000 in costs associated with a human rights case filed by Nigerian villagers. The corporation said the plaintiffs owed them the costs - including the cost of photocopies and deposition fees - after they were found not liable last fall. However, the judge disagreed.

“The economic disparity between plaintiffs, who are Nigerian villagers, and defendants, international oil companies, cannot be more stark,” Illston stated in her brief.

Illston compared Chevron’s 2008 earnings of $23.93 billion to the income of the villagers who were plaintiffs in the case citing their respective jobs at a gas station – (earning as much as $100 per month), operating a kerosene business ($867 per month), and odd jobs that involve cutting or selling firewood, fishing, and construction ($60 per month), among other low paying jobs, and stated that ten of the plaintiffs were minors who have no income.

The judge also cautioned against Chevron’s efforts to use the threat of a cost order such as the one requested by Chevron to deter future human rights litigation.

“At root, this case was an attempt by impoverished citizens of Nigeria to increase accountability for the activities of American companies in their country. Plaintiffs’ ultimate failure at trial does not detract from the fact that this was a civil rights case. The threat of deterring future litigants from prosecuting human rights claims in the future is especially present in a case such as this, where plaintiffs have paltry resources and defendants are large and powerful economic actors,” she continued in the brief.

The lawsuit was filed 10 years ago by Nigerian villagers who were peacefully protesting Chevron for the lack of jobs and environmental damage caused by the company in their communities. To quell the protest, Chevron paid for and transported the notoriously ruthless Nigerian military to remove the protesters from an oil platform where the villagers had staged a sit-in. As a result, two villagers were killed and several others were injured and tortured.

On December 1, 2008 a San Francisco jury found Chevron not liable. The plaintiffs have since appealed the decision in the 9th circuit court of appeals.

Sarah Dotlich


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