Acton Institute Powerblog

Mother Superiors of the Boardroom Jump the Gun

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protestersgaAs noted previously this week, U.S. District Judge Lewis Kaplan shot down a $9.5 billion (reported in some news accounts as $6 billion) judgment against Chevron for allegedly bespoiling Ecuadorian wilderness in cahoots with PetroEcuador. Judge Kaplan exonerated Chevron, and had some particularly nasty things to say about Steven Donziger, the attorney who sued the oil company for $113 billion.

I pointed out that Donziger’s since-discredited claims were taken up quickly by religious shareholder activists, many who submitted resolutions requesting that Chevron concede to Donziger’s extortion. Attach the “environmental disaster” epithet to any given legal claim and some leftists will buy it at face value. Mother Superior jumped the gun – before waiting for the courts to determine if Chevron would be exonerated. Indeed, Donziger’s charges were found without merit – as well as completely fraudulent, and the initial judgment rendered by the Ecuadorian court was found to have resulted from bribery, coercion and a vast public relations conspiracy consisting of half-truths, lies and bald-faced lies.

The Wall Street Journal editorialized:

In a 485-page opinion, the judge called the case “extraordinary,” calling the actions of Mr. Donziger and his legal team “offensive to the laws of any nation that aspires to the rule of law, including Ecuador.” The corrupt extortion was intended to “instill fear of a catastrophic outcome in order to increase the amount Chevron would pay to avoid the worst,” Judge Kaplan wrote.

But the Mothers Superior of Trillium Asset Management, the Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility, Boston Common Asset Management, Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society of the Episcopal Church, Catholic Health Care Partners and The Society of Jesus-Wisconsin Province scrambled helter-skelter to condemn Chevron from the get-go. Perhaps they’d do well heeding these words from the WSJ moving forward:

Chevron refused to give in, and now the case may serve as an example of how companies can fight back if they have the nerve and the cash. Mr. Donziger says he’ll appeal, but on the factual record he stands discredited. Another worthy casualty may be financially strapped Washington law firm Patton Boggs, which got involved on behalf of Burford Capital’s effort to provide litigation financing to the plaintiffs. Tuesday’s opinion means the firm won’t collect any plunder, which couldn’t happen to a nicer crowd.

Mr. Donziger is a pioneer of the foreign environmental tort, trying to exploit Third World juries to bleed U.S. companies regardless of the merits. We’re glad to see his dishonesty face American justice.

However, there exists no evidence thus far that any of the above shareholder groups exhibit any remorse over their ill-considered campaign against Chevron. Nor does it seem likely they’ll wait in the future before flogging a company in which they invest to the detriment of their own interests as well as those of fellow shareholders and the millions of customers worldwide benefiting from the goods and services of publicly owned companies.

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Bruce Edward Walker has more than 30 years’ writing and editing experience in a variety of publishing areas, including reference books, newspapers, magazines, media relations and corporate speeches. Much of this material involved research on water rights, land use, alternative-technology vehicles and other environmental issues, but Walker has also written extensively on nonscientific subjects, having produced six titles in Wiley Publishing’s CliffsNotes series, including study guides for "Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland" and "One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest." He has also authored more than 100 critical biographies of authors and musicians for Gale Research's Contemporary Literary Criticism and Contemporary Musicians reference-book series. Most recently, he was managing editor of The Heartland Institute's InfoTech & Telecom News. Prior to that, he was manager of communications for the Mackinac Center's Property Rights Network. He also served from 2006-2007 as editor of Michigan Science, a quarterly Mackinac Center publication. Walker has served as an adjunct professor of literature and academic writing at University of Detroit Mercy. For the past three years, he has authored a weekly column for the mid-Michigan Morning Sun newspaper. Walker holds a bachelor’s degree in English from Michigan State University. He is the father of two daughters and currently lives in Midland, Mich., with his wife Katherine.

Comments

  • Concerned Citizen

    Interesting interpretation of this case. Given this level of talent, I am sure there is a job waiting for Bruce Edward Walker on Fox News!

    • Cha5678

      Read the court opinion

  • Jack

    What Bruce? No sense of humor?

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  • jay kay

    Haha, ‘Mother Superior’. Cus nuns are dumb. And morality is for chumps.