Chevron Abused Federal Court With "False and Misleading" Use of Ecuador Footage, Says Filmmaker

CRUDE Director Berlinger Provides Evidence That Chevron Violated Court Order

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New York, NY – Chevron is facing blistering criticism from Joe Berlinger, the award-winning filmmaker of the documentary CRUDE, for violating a court order and making "false and misleading" statements about film outtakes shot by Mr. Berlinger, according to legal papers filed by Berlinger's lawyers before a New York federal judge.

Berlinger had turned over hundreds of hours of outtakes from CRUDE to Chevron in accordance with a July 15 court order from the Second Circuit Court of Appeals, but only after the company promised not to use the film footage for its public relations campaigns. CRUDE chronicles the legal struggle by 30,000 Ecuadorian rainforest residents over Chevron's illegal dumping of more than 18 billion gallons of toxic "produced water" directly into the Amazon.

Chevron's promise was memorialized in the Second Circuit's order that the "[m]aterial produced under this order shall be used by the petitioners solely for litigation, arbitration, or submission to official bodies, either local or international."

Despite the Second Circuit's order prohibiting use of the materials for press or public relations purposes, Chevron immediately distributed the material on Twitter and provided it to bloggers hours before it was even served to opposing lawyers.

According to Berlinger's legal filing, Chevron's violations of the court order include:

  • On August 3 at 7:47 p.m. – more than two hours before Chevron served its motion on Berlinger's lawyers – a detailed article on the film outtakes was posted on the blog of the National Association of Manufacturers.
  • Nineteen minutes later and also well before the papers were served, Chevron posted "CRUDE Footage Reveals Lies Behind Trial Lawyers' Suit Against Chevron" to its page, and linked to the above-referenced article.
  • On August 5 the San Francisco Chronicle posted an article entitled "Chevron: Outtakes prove collusion with expert," in which the author states that he was given the outtakes by Chevron.

Beyond Chevron's violations of the Court order, Berlinger told Fortune magazine that the company was mischaracterizing what was in the outtakes for litigation purposes.

"I am dismayed at the level of mischaracterizations in Chevron's Memorandum brief," Berlinger said in an interview with the magazine. "The footage citations are being taken out of context and not being presented to the court in its entirety, creating numerous false impressions, precisely what we feared when we were first issued the original subpoena."

Ilann Maazel, who represents the Ecuadorian residents suing Chevron, called the company's conduct "a cynical and desperate, last-minute legal strategy."

"Chevron's court filing is highly misleading, at best," he said. "It appears to be a motion in service of a press release. Why else would Chevron share its motion with the international press before even informing Mr. Berlinger or the plaintiffs?"

"Chevron is attempting anything it can to distract attention from its huge potential liability in Ecuador," said Maazel. "The company has been reduced to clever editing and unsupported, nefarious allegations to mask overwhelming evidence of its own misconduct."

More than 64,000 chemical sampling results – more than 80% of which were provided by the company's own scientists – and a 200,000 page trial record has produced a mountain of evidence showing the extent of the contamination.

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