September 5, 2018
On the eve of protest in three cities against SLAPP-style harassment lawsuits, the main target of what has become known as the “Mother of All SLAPP Attacks” discussed the new corporate playbook for using courts to silence advocacy.
Steven Donziger, a Harvard-educated lawyer, organized the team that won a landmark $12 billion environmental judgment against Chevron in Ecuador. After losing the case, Chevron attacked the plaintiffs in Ecuador’s Amazon and their lawyer, Donziger, with a SLAPP lawsuit that might be the most vicious and well-funded corporate retaliation campaign in U.S. history. (See here for the evidence against Chevron.)
A SLAPP lawsuit is one filed by a corporation or governmental entity to harass, intimidate, and ultimately silence critics rather than for the merits of any underlying claim. The party that initiates a SLAPP suit almost always has a huge resource advantage compared to the person targeted, which is the case here given that Donziger works out of his Manhattan apartment while Chevron is one of the largest companies in the world. Such lawsuits also violate the Free Speech clause of the U.S. Constitution.
Chevron targeted Donziger with six public relations firms, hundreds of lawyers and investigators, and a U.S. federal judge who allowed the oil giant to present paid-for witness testimony on a civil “racketeering” case that Donziger said “was an attempt to frame me with criminal wrongdoing.” Chevron has spent an estimated $2 billion to pay 60 law firms to attack the Ecuadorians and their lawyers.
Donziger – called a “hero” of the environmental movement by Greenpeace co-founder Rex Weyler — speaks below on the eve of international protests against intimidation SLAPP lawsuits staged by the “Protect the Protest” coalition including Greenpeace, RAN, Mother Jones, Wikimedia, Electronic Frontier Foundation, and human rights and environmental organizations. He was interviewed by Karen Hinton, the longtime U.S.-based spokesperson for the Ecuadorian communities and the former press secretary for New York City Major Bill DeBlasio.