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Bowoto v. Chevron Texaco Corp.

312 F. Supp. 2d 1229 (2004)

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Bowoto v. Chevron Texaco Corp.

United States District Court for the Northern District of California

312 F. Supp. 2d 1229 (2004)

Facts

Five Nigerians including Larry Bowoto (plaintiffs) alleged American corporations ChevronTexaco Corporation (CVX) and subsidiary ChevronTexaco Overseas Petroleum, Inc. (CTOP) (defendants) contributed to human-rights abuses in Nigeria. CTOP subsidiary Chevron Nigeria Limited (CNL) operated a joint venture with Nigeria’s state oil company. CVX, CTOP, and CNL allegedly acted together in recruiting Nigerian military and police to fire weapons at Nigerian protestors on a Chevron oil platform, killing two, and detaining and torturing a protest leader. Six months later, Chevron helicopter pilots transporting Nigerian military or police allegedly flew over two villages and gunned down villagers, killing two. Thirty minutes later, CNL sea trucks with CNL personnel and Nigerian military allegedly opened fire on the second village, killing several people. The claimants alleged CVX and CTOP had an agency relationship with CNL because Nigerian oil production accounted for large percentages of their overall revenues, they often swapped managers and directors, CVX and CTOP selected CNL officers, a corporate committee monitored and planned the subsidiaries’ security operations, and the three entities communicated daily with particularly sharp increases during the attacks. The claimants also alleged CVX and CTOP ratified the attacks by launching a media campaign disguising CNL’s complicity and “covered up” for their own benefit instead of disavowing involvement. CVX and CTOP requested summary judgment finding them not liable for CNL’s actions.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Illston, J.)

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