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No Evidence and Falsified Expert Reports

There have now been several documented instances in which the plaintiffs’ lawyers misled their environmental experts and misused these experts’ work

Plaintiffs’ lawyers’ experts Dave Russell and Dr. Charles Calmbacher repeatedly told their employers that testing results did not support the allegations of environmental contamination by Texaco. In November 2004, Russell told plaintiffs’ lawyers that their testing was “self-defeating” (27 KB) and “counterproductive.” (62 KB) He went on to admit that Texaco’s environmental cleanup was “performing as designed.” (110 KB) Russell continued with admissions that testing for cancer-causing chemicals was proving fruitless; the carcinogenic compounds were simply “not there.” Two months later, Russell provided another update in which he explained: “From the data I have seen so far, we are not finding (23 KB) any of the highly carcinogenic compounds one would hope to see when investigating the oil pits.”

Russell later disavowed (111 KB) his own $6 billion remediation estimate, telling the plaintiffs’ lead American lawyer, Steven Donziger, that the “estimate is no longer valid, and if subpoenaed to testify, I will state that the costs are much lower based upon the knowledge available to me at the time I was released from the project.”

In a sworn declaration (1.8 MB), Russell also testified that he had “personal knowledge that [lead plaintiff attorney] Steven Donziger and the plaintiffs’ representatives” were “lying about the environmental conditions” in Ecuador. Russell outlined how Donziger instructed him to stop testing for standard oil spill markers because the findings suggested that the oil was too fresh and not likely a result of Texaco’s operations. He further noted that by late 2004, the plaintiffs had become unhappy because “the analytical data was turning up blank for both the soil and the water samples” and they “could not prove their claims.”

Dr. Calmbacher, the plaintiffs’ expert who inspected the first four sites in 2004, found that none required further remediation. As environmental testing failed to show the necessary contamination, the plaintiffs’ lawyers began falsifying evidence. In 2005, plaintiffs’ lawyers filed reports in Dr. Calmbacher’s name, claiming he had concluded that two of the sites were contaminated and required millions of dollars of remediation. When subpoenaed by Chevron, Dr. Calmbacher testified (61 KB) under oath that “I did not reach these conclusions, and I did not write this report.”

Additionally, Douglas Beltman, Executive Vice President, and Ann Maest, Managing Scientist, of Boulder, Colo.-based Stratus Consulting, provided sworn declarations (Beltman here (307 KB), Maest here) (169 KB) outlining Stratus’ knowledge of the plaintiffs’ lawyers’ misconduct in the ongoing litigation. The executives also testified that there is no scientific merit to the plaintiffs’ damages claims against Chevron and Texaco Petroleum, which served as the evidentiary basis for the $18 billion judgment issued against Chevron by an Ecuadorian court in February 2011.

Beltman and Maest detail the role Stratus and the plaintiffs’ lawyers played in drafting the supposedly independent damages report of Richard Cabrera. Testimony also provides a direct account of Steven Donziger’s control of the “Cabrera Report” process and the pressure Donziger applied to contrive damages attributed to Chevron.

In filings submitted in the Southern District of New York on April 12, 2013, Beltman and Maest state that “Stratus is not aware of any scientific evidence that people in the former concession area are drinking water contaminated with petroleum” and that they are “not aware of any scientific data that shows that any adverse health effects are caused by contamination from petroleum operations in the Oriente.”


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