Chevron Victory in Nigerian Protesters’ Suit Upheld

Chevron Corp.’s trial victory in a lawsuit brought by Nigerian protesters blaming the company for violence at an offshore oil platform was upheld on appeal.

A three-judge panel of the U.S. court of appeals in San Francisco ruled today that the trial judge made no errors in admitting challenged evidence or in the jury instructions. The appellate panel also agreed with the judge that the 1992 U.S. Torture Victim Protection Act is intended to sue individuals rather than corporations.

“For years, the events that transpired on the Parabe platform have been misrepresented to courts and the public,” Chevron spokesman Kent Robertson said in an e-mailed statement. “While we are sympathetic to the challenges that people of the Niger Delta face, hostage taking is never the answer.”

The case stems from a 1998 incident in which protesters, who boarded a Chevron oil drilling platform, were attacked by Nigerian soldiers. Two men were killed, others were shot and beaten and one man was hung by his wrists and tortured after a protest about jobs and alleged environmental damage to the area, according to the 1999 lawsuit against Chevron.

Nineteen Nigerians sued the company, claiming it was liable for the actions of the Nigerian soldiers it hired to provide security for the oil platform.

After almost 10 years of trial court proceedings, the case went before a jury in October 2008. The jury cleared Chevron, the second-largest U.S. oil company, of wrongful death, torture, assault, battery and negligence claims.

Theresa Traber, a lawyer representing the Nigerians and their families, didn’t immediately return a call for comment.

The case is Larry Bowoto v. Chevron, 09-15641, 9th U.S. Court of Appeals (San Francisco).

To contact the reporter on this story: Edvard Pettersson in Los Angeles at epettersson@bloomberg.net.

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