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Posts under ‘Esther Kiobel’

Esther Kiobel vs money motivated hornets’ nest of 66,000 lawyers

By John Donovan

The battle in the US courts over Shell discovery documents was uneven from the start. Esther Kiobel versus Shell’s formidable US lawyers CRAVATH, SWAINE & MOORE, LLP. The Nigerian-born widow of a murdered Ogoni leader on one side, still fighting to put Shell on trial for complicity in his murder, and a giant law firm on the other, which since 2002, has been blocking her path to justice.

Nonetheless, a US Judge granted her recent petition for Cravath to hand over more than 100,000 Shell discovery documents stored in the USA so that Esther can use them in a pending action against Shell in the Netherlands. In response, Cravath hired another top law firm Hogan Lovells led by one of America’s top lawyers Neal Katyal to represent them in an appeal, thus becoming a battle between Esther Kiobel (now a US citizen) and two giant law firms. No doubt with the malevolent presence of Shell lurking behind the scenes pulling the strings.

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Shell’s litigation in the U.S. courts over misappropriated $1.4bn Nigerian oil

By John Donovan

Esther Kiobel, the widow of Shell Ogoni leader Dr Barinem Kiobel, spent over a decade pursuing litigation against Royal Dutch Shell in the USA courts for alleged complicity in his murder.

All of her efforts and those of her lawyers and all the evidence gathered from witnesses came to nought when the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in 2013 that Shell could not be sued in the in the U.S. courts for matters that happened in Nigeria.

Being a simple soul, not a lawyer, I am at a loss to understand how it is then that Shell is currently pursuing litigation against the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (“NNPC”) in the U.S. courts in relation to the sum of $1,416,932,000 (Yes, $1.4bn), plus interest and legal costs.

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Neal Katyal, the best justice money can buy

By John Donovan

Shell lawyers Cravath Swaine & Moore LLP have hired Neal Katyal, a senior partner at the global law firm Hogan Lovells, to represent them in litigation relating to Shell’s human rights abuses in Nigeria.

Mr Katyal is a busy man. On Monday he will be arguing a case before the U.S. Supreme Court. For the first time, it includes President Trump’s appointee Neil Gorsuch. Katyal endorsed Gorsuch’s nomination to the U.S. Supreme Court, testifying at his Senate Judiciary Committee confirmation hearing.

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Shell’s Nigerian Nightmare Continues

Latest salvo in Shell Nigerian discovery docs battle

By John Donovan

Over 100,000 Shell internal discovery documents relating to the oil giants murderous conduct in Nigeria were assembled by Shell several years ago.

This huge task was undertaken for the famous Kiobel v Royal Dutch Petroleum lawsuit in the USA alleging that Shell was complicit in the murder of Ogoni leaders, including Ken Saro-Wiwa and the beloved husband of Esther Kiobel, Dr. Barinem Kiobel.

In 2013, Shell’s lawyers Cravath Swaine & Moore LLP managed to scupper that litigation on legal jurisdiction grounds in a historic U.S. Supreme Court Decision. The pre-trial proceedings, which had lasted over a decade, came to an abrupt end before the allegations could be brought to trial. Shell cleverly escaped responsibility. The content of the discovery documents remained confidential and under Shell’s control.

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APRIL 2017: TOP U.S. LAW FIRMS BATTLING TO FRUSTRATE ESTHER KIOBEL LITIGATION AGAINST SHELL

Esther Kiobel (left) addressing supporters

15 YEARS ON, SHELL STILL FRUSTRATING LITIGATION TO HOLD IT ACCOUNTABLE FOR EVIL DEEDS IN NIGERIA

By John Donovan

Cravath, Swaine & Moore LLP – a global law firm, which has Shell as a long term client, has recently hired another global law firm – Hogan Lovells US LLP – to represent it in an attempt to frustrate litigation being brought against Shell in the USA and the Netherlands. 

We have published several articles in recent months concerning a petition brought in the US courts on behalf of Esther Kiobel.  

She is seeking access to more than 100,000 Shell internal documents gathered by Shell and handed to Cravath. This happened as part of the discovery process in the litigation Esther brought against Shell in 2002, in the US courts. Among many serious allegations was a claim that Shell was complicit in the murder of her husband, a leader of the Ogoni people in Nigeria. 

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Kiobel vs Shell discovery doc battle continues in US Courts

Ms. Kiobel has been trying for years to obtain justice for the murder of her husband and other abuses committed against her. That justice was denied to her in the United States, not on the merits, but due to an unforeseen limitation on the reach of the Alien Tort Statute that no lower court had previously imposed.

By John Donovan

The headline above is not strictly correct.

The current battle in the US courts IS between Esther Kiobel and Cravath, Swaine & Moore LLP. However, the real battle is between Esther Kiobel and Shell – a long term client of Cravath.

Cravath holds over 100,000 Shell internal documents assembled by Shell for litigation brought by Esther Kiobel many years ago in the US courts. The following extract from a submission made by her lawyers on 23 February 2017 explains what happened:

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US Legal Battle over 100,000 Shell Internal Docs

There is a major legal battle in progress in the US courts relating to over 100,000 Shell internal documents and witness depositions arising from the famed Kiobel vs Royal Dutch Petroleum Co case.

Shell lawyers Cravath, Swaine & Moore LLP has just obtained a stay of a Court Order which had required the discovery materials to be made available to Esther Kiobel by 27 February 2017. The details and the associated court imposed deadlines flowing from the stay are indicated in the above COURT ORDER dated 14 February 2017. 

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US appeal against order to hand over Shell docs for Dutch case

 The most audacious argument being made by Cravath against the Court Order is that since Esther Kiobel has already waited more than twenty years in pursuing Shell, what’s the problem in her waiting even longer!

By John Donovan

Yesterday, despite the fact that the petition case resulting in the recent Court Order had been officially closed, Cravath filed an appeal against handing over the Shell discovery documents for use in the Dutch courts. This is for an imminent human rights action being brought by Esther Kiobel against Shell in its home country.

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Shell Nigerian Litigation: Win in UK. Loss in USA

As has been widely reported, Shell has managed to block the litigation brought in the London High Court by Nigerian litigants claiming for severe environmental damage caused by Shell in Nigeria. An appeal against the decision is likely. I have evidence that may assist.

Two days earlier, on 24 January, Shell lawyers lost a related case in America. A US Federal Judge Alvin K. Hellerstein ordered Shell law firm Cravath, Swaine & Moore LLP, to make available to the Nigerian litigant Ether Kiobel by 27 February, for use in the Dutch courts in a human rights action, more than 100,000 Shell discovery documents stored in the USA. I am involved in that case.

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Esher Kiobel v Shell article published in Dutch FT

The Nigerian Esther Kiobel will drag Shell before the Netherlands courts in a civil lawsuit. She holds the oil company responsible for complicity in the death of her husband Barinem Kiobel in 1995. Kiobel has returned to the US courts years after a legal action against Shell. With a view to a trial in the Netherlands Kiobel requested access to documents in the American action that were introduced by Shell. Kiobel claims these documents can prove that Shell colluded with the Nigerian regime to commit human rights violations. A US judge has approved in late December a request to use the documents in a Dutch court. The Dutch lawyer Channa Samkalden representing Kiobel in the Netherlands, says that the aim is to start the case in the Netherlands’ in the first months of this year.  “In the case going to Shell’s liability will be due to the role of the company at the events that led to the death of Kiobels husband,” says Samkalden.

Human Rights Violations

Barinem Kiobel along with environmental activist Ken Saro-Wiwa and seven others who were protesting against oil exploration in the Niger Delta, were executed by the Nigerian military. Because Shell according to Kiobel supported and provided funding to the army in the fight against groups protesting against oil companies in the Niger Delta, the company was complicit in his death.

In 2009, Shell settled a US case for more than $ 15 million with some relatives of the executed Nigerians, who were known as the Ogoni nine, but the case of Kiobel did not lead to a settlement. The US Supreme Court, however, ruled in 2013 that it had no jurisdiction to rule on her claims.

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Resurrection of Kiobel v Royal Dutch Shell litigation

32 page U.S. Federal Court Order dated 20 December 2016 

U.S. Related FederalCourt Order dated 6 January 2017

Shell is being buried up to its corporate neck in a toxic swamp of current or pending litigation arising from its activities in Nigeria.

In 2013 Shell thought it had killed Nigeria related long-standing litigation in the U.S. courts when the U.S. Supreme Court decided that the Alien Tort Claims Act does not apply extraterritorially

Esther Kiobel was the bitterly disappointed lead plaintiff seeking justice in the USA on human rights grounds against a company she considers to be evil. She holds Shell responsible for the murder of her late husband, Ogoni leader Dr Barinem Kiobel.

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A devastating blow for Shell in U.S. Federal Court

By John Donovan

Earlier this week, on Tuesday, December 20, 2016, a U.S. website -Law360 – which reports American court proceedings, published an article about a decision made that same day by Federal U.S. District Judge Alvin K. Hellerstein.

Lawyers acting on behalf of Esther Kiobel had filed a petition seeking documents used in her case against Shell brought in the United States, which was ultimately thwarted by a US Supreme Court decision on extraterritoriality grounds in 2013.

The case is now being brought in the Dutch courts.

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