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.
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.
Of course American companies have a right and responsibility to protect their workers from harm - no reasonable person would argue that.
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