Chevron's Human Rights Hitmen - Andrea E. Neuman and Randy M. Mastro

Chevron's Human Rights Hitmen - Andrea E. Neuman and Randy M. Mastro

Andrea E. Neuman and Randy M. Mastro

Gibson, Dunn, and Crutcher LLP

a.k.a. The Legal Vultures

The law firm Gibson, Dunn, and Crutcher has a long history of defending large, wealthy corporations against individuals and communities who have been harmed by those corporations. The firm's typical mode of operation in such cases is to assemble its own team of “experts” to provide evidence showing that its client could not have caused the alleged harm — a tactic Andrea E. Neuman and Randy M. Mastro are once again employing in defending Chevron for its massive amounts of pollution in the Ecuadorean Amazon.

Per Gibson, Dunn’s bio for Andrea Neuman: “Ms. Neuman has substantial experience trying high-stakes cases, including securing the dismissal of two toxic tort cases against Dole Foods because of fraud on the court by plaintiffs and their counsel and securing the denial of the enforcement of a $98 million Nicaragua judgment against Dole in federal District Court in Florida.”

A little more background on the story: In 2007, workers at a Nicaraguan banana plantation successfully sued Dole, claiming they were rendered sterile by the company’s use of a pesticide called dibromochloropropane. (The EPA banned the use of DBCP in the USA in 1977 because regular exposure had been found to cause sterility in men.) It looked like Dole was going to be held accountable until Dole hired Gibson, Dunn. At that point, the company suddenly claimed it was actually the victim and went on the offensive. Dole alleged that the workers and their lawyers had lied about being infertile in an attempt to defraud Dole out of the $2.3 million judgment, and the case was ultimately dismissed.

Executing the Playbook for Protecting Polluters

If that sounds familiar, it’s because Neuman and Mastro are now executing the same playbook to help Chevron evade its responsibility to clean up Ecuador: Distract from the fact that people are suffering from very real pollution caused by their clients by attacking the plaintiffs, their legal representation, and the justice system trying the case.

Other tactics employed by Neuman and Mastro on behalf of Chevron include panicked and duplicitous efforts to stop the cross-examination of a leading authority on oil field contamination after he had been deposed for several hours by Neuman. The Gibson, Dunn lawyer was sanctioned by a U.S. federal court for her “abusive questioning” and “blatant intimidation tactics” during that deposition as she attempted to portray the expert testimony as fraudulent.

Randy Mastro is a particularly good match for Chevron’s in-house legal counsel, comprised as it is of rabid right-wing ideologues pursuing political solutions to the company’s legal problems. Mastro is no stranger to Republican politics himself, as he was a Deputy Mayor of New York City under Rudy Giulani and later a member of John McCain’s judicial steering committee in the 2008 presidential elections.

Intimidation Tactics

It’s not just scientific and technical experts that Gibson, Dunn is trying to smear and intimidate. Law firm Patton Boggs has signaled its intent to sue Chevron and Gibson, Dunn for mounting a “smear campaign” against it in an attempt to stop Patton Boggs from representing the Ecuadorean plaintiffs.

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