Caso Chevron

Brad Pitt edges out George Clooney for film rights to Chevron-Donziger story

Fortune - Roger Parloff 27/04/2015

Foto: Fortune

Foto: Fortune

Paul Barrett’s “Law of the Jungle,” denounced by its lawyer anti-hero, has been optioned for the screen.

Brad Pitt’s production company has edged out George Clooney’s to win the film rights to a book about the epic, fraud-marred Ecuadorian environmental suit against Chevron CVX 0.14% , according to two sources with indirect knowledge of the situation.

The book, Law of the Jungle, by Bloomberg Businessweek senior writer Paul Barrett, chronicles the story behind the 22-year-old-and-counting court battle over pollution in the Ecuadorian Amazon, allegedly left behind by Texaco—bought by Chevron in 2001—when it drilled for oil there between 1964 and 1992. The litigation campaign, largely led by screen-o-genic New York attorney Steven Donziger, culminated in an $18.2 billion judgment against Chevron from a provincial court in Lago Agrio, Ecuador, in 2011, later pared back to $9.5 billion by Ecuador’s highest court.

Barrett’s book, which came out last September, also chronicles the lurid chicanery that led a Manhattan federal judge to rule in March 2014 that Donziger had procured his blockbuster judgment through a pattern of racketeering activity, including bribery, fraud, extortion, obstruction of justice, and other offenses. Among other things, Donziger and his co-counsel are alleged to have ghostwritten the multi-billion-dollar judgment themselves, having obtained that opportunity by promising the trial judge $500,000 to be paid from moneys eventually recovered. (I have previously summarized some of the key allegations against Donziger in this opinion piece.)

U.S. District Judge Lewis Kaplan barred the plaintiffs from trying to enforce the judgment in the United States—a significant step because Chevron has virtually no assets in Ecuador—and issued orders aimed at trying to prevent Donziger from benefiting from his wrongdoing. (Donziger has appealed Kaplan’s judgment, but his attorneys have focused on legal issues and have not, for the most part, contested Kaplan’s factual findings. Donziger has, however, denied personal participation in bribing the judge.)

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