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Posts under ‘Ogoniland’

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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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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Shell’s Nigerian Quagmire

Bearing in mind the avalanche of recent news stories about Shell’s Nigerian problems, it is interesting to reflect on the content of a 93-page report by WAC Global Services commissioned by Shell over a decade ago. I can only assume that no one at Shell bothered to pay attention to the warnings in the report arising from its evil activities feeding corruption, violence and pollution.

Some extracts

(Please note SCIN = SHELL COMPANIES IN NIGERIA)

From page 8

It is easy to conclude that any type of company or trade bringing resources to the Niger Delta will be confronted with the same problem. While this view is valid, it is also true that the manner in which the SCIN operates and it staff behaves creates, feeds into, or exacerbates conflict. After over 50 years in Nigeria, it is therefore reasonable to say that SCIN has become an integral part of the Niger Delta conflict system.

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More Shell News Friday 24 March 2017

Geologist for Shell says company hid Nigeria spill dangers: Associated Press

Royal Dutch Shell’s Nigeria subsidiary “fiercely opposed” environmental testing and is concealing data showing thousands of Nigerians are exposed to health hazards from a stalled cleanup of the worst oil spills in the West African nation’s history, according to a German geologist contracted by the Dutch-British multinational.

Shell says to start cleaning up 2008 Nigeria oil spills in April: Seeking Alpha

The head of a group helping organize Royal Dutch Shell’s (RDS.A, RDS.B) clean-up of 2008 oil spills at a Nigerian Delta community says he hopes work can begin next monthShell agreed in 2015 on a £55M ($68.6M) settlement with the Bodo community after accepting liability for two pipeline leaks…

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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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Oil Resumption in Ogoni: Does Our Society Still Have Any Conscience?

By Fegalo Nsuke

When in 1993, the Ogoni people embarked on the journey to redefine their future with a historic march involving over 300,000 people, little did they know that they were not only on a self-rescue mission but were to shape the life and future of the entire Niger Delta. The Ogoni struggle became an eye-opener to the nefarious and very repugnant ecological war of the multinational oil companies in the Niger Delta.

Government response was simply to sentence 9 outspoken Ogoni leaders to death by hanging. It would have been expected that the hanging of Ken Saro-Wiwa and eight others on November 10, 1995 was to end the Ogoni agitation, at least it was sufficient to put fear into everyone who dared to question the operations of the multi-national oil companies, and was expected to guarantee the resumption of oil production in Ogoni and cover up the massive human rights abuses perpetrated by the Nigerian authorities and Shell. against the Ogoni people. The Nigerian authorities had imagined that no one would further organize the Ogoni resistance after Saro-Wiwa.

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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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A deserved shitstorm of Shell Nigerian litigation

A boatload of heavily armed Shell employees? Photograph: Veronique de Viguerie/Getty Images

Shell is facing what Americans might describe as a shitstorm of lawsuits arising from its Nigerian activities since the 1950’s. Litigation is current or pending in Nigeria, the USA, Italy, the UK and the Netherlands.

According to Wikipedia, shitstorm is a vulgar dysphemism for a chaotic and unpleasant situation. It does seem appropriate in a reputational nightmare of Shell’s own making. Related human rights allegations against Shell and the evil Nigerian regimes it has supported include torture, murder, toxic pollution, spying and corruption on a grand scale.

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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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Shell’s complicity in human rights abuses in the Niger Delta


By John Donovan

As we approach the start of 2017, Shell’s conduct in Nigeria is coming under intense scrutiny by prosecution authorities and is also the subject of civil litigation, both current and pending.

The charges include corruption, environmental contamination, and gross human rights abuses, including cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment. 

Shell senior management cannot say that it was not warned. The following is an extract from a letter sent in February 2012 to Shell executives in London, Nigeria and Den Haag.

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