• Chevron's Sour Lake: How a Decades-Long Legal Battle Exemplifies the Need for Changes in U.S. Law

      Vasquez, Marcela; Sligh, Madeleine Nicole; Miller, Marc; Hopkins, James; da Silva, Antonio (The University of Arizona., 2019)
      In 1993, a group of Ecuadorian plaintiffs filed a complaint against oil giant Texaco in the U.S. Their cause of action? An oil spill the size of Manhattan, an environmental crisis referred to by numerous environmentalists, ecologists, and investigative journalists as the “Rain Forest Chernobyl.” This thesis examines the ongoing litigation, a “legal suicide mission,” undertaken by animated American lawyer Steven Donziger on behalf of the indigenous people of the Oriente region. Their opponent, Chevron, acquired Texaco in 2001, and went on to become the second highest producer of oil worldwide. This thesis aims to explain the tangled and extensive history of this case. It describes the legal mechanisms at work and how they affect the litigation for a non-legal audience, and, unlike most legal literature, it explores the history and the people of the Oriente region, in addition to profiling Steven Donziger, the plaintiffs’ attorney. It also analyzes how both parties have used the media as weapons against the opposing party. The final objective of this thesis is to use this case as a lesson for how U.S. law must change in order to best protect not only human rights victims, but also U.S. corporations.