Lawyers for a group of Nigerian environmental activists argued an appeal before the Ninth Circuit in Bowoto v. Chevron. This landmark case was the first human rights civil suit against a corporation to be tried before an American jury.
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For the first time, a U.S. company could potentially be held liable in U.S. courts for gross human rights abuses committed in their overseas operations.
Paying the soldiers of foreign countries to moonlight as a private security force is an inherently corrupting practice that undermines the rule of law and the neutrality of a foreign army.
Why do police negotiators generally refuse to pay ransom for hostages? To do so would actually encourage more kidnappings by providing an incentive to would-be kidnappers.
One of the more interesting aspects of the Bowoto v. Chevron case has been the role played by attorney Charles James, who is considered a disciple of Karl Rove-style legal and political tactics.
What happens when an oil company gets its back to the wall in a human rights lawsuit? Like a cornered hound, it goes on the attack.
Wednesday morning I watched the beginning development of a very specific narrative thread by Chevron - the underlying claim that they did not know, and could not know.
Of course American companies have a right and responsibility to protect their workers from harm - no reasonable person would argue that.
Since the state of the law is so unsettled on this point, the decision in Bowoto is likely to have a big impact on the way future human rights lawsuits are litigated. Chevron knows this, of course.
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