(Corrects 11th paragraph to make clear the scene was included
in the documentary and not cut out)
* Oil company claims raw footage shows misconduct
* Filmmaker's lawyer to appeal judge's decision
By Grant McCool
NEW YORK, May 6 Chevron Corp (CVX.N) may review
600 hours of raw documentary film footage the company says
includes evidence of misconduct by lawyers representing
Ecuadoreans in a long-running dispute over oil pollution in the
Amazon rain forest, a U.S. judge ruled on Thursday.
The 17-year-old dispute between the second-largest U.S. oil
company and the Ecuadoreans who accuse it of polluting the Lago
Agrio area has produced many twists and turns, including
allegations of bribery in the Ecuador court system.
Maura Wogan, attorney for award-winning filmmaker Joseph
Berlinger whose documentary "Crude" was released last year,
said the ruling showed a lack of sensitivity to journalist's
"We have not seen a decision in this circuit where an order
required so much material," Wogan said of the ruling by U.S.
District Judge Lewis Kaplan in New York. "Usually, where the
courts ordered outtakes, they focused on a particular scene or
a particular interview, not all of its raw footage."
Wogan said Berlinger would appeal Thursday's order.
The documentary chronicles the litigation and oil
production in the Amazon rainforest. Indigenous communities
accused Texaco, bought by Chevron in 2001, of damaging their
health and the rain forest in causing river pollution.
The original lawsuit was brought by farmers and residents
in 1993. Chevron, which faces potential liability of $27
billion, says the claim against it is without merit.
A Chevron Corp spokesman, Kent Robertson, said the company
welcomed Thursday's ruling.
Chevron lawyers presented outtakes from the film at a
hearing last week, arguing they bolstered the company's claim a
plaintiff's expert report was tainted.
"We certainly believe that there is a lot to be discovered
through the process," Robertson said. "We are quite confident
that elsewhere in the 600 hours of film that were not made
public, there are additional instances of misconduct."
Kaplan's opinion cited a scene included in the documentary
film in which the Ecuadorean's lead counsel, U.S. lawyer Steven
Donziger, describes his use of pressure tactics on an
Ecuadorean judge to block inspection of a laboratory being used
by plaintiffs to test for environmental contamination.
Donziger is shown conceding "this is something you would
never do in the United States, but Ecuador, you know, this is
how the game is played, it's dirty."
The case is In re Application of Chevron Corporation, U.S.
District Court for the Southern District of New York, No.
(Reporting by Grant McCool; editing by Andre Grenon)