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  • Writer's pictureKirk Hartley

Kudos for “Crude Awakening: Chevron in Ecuador” – Michael Goldhaber’s Insights into the

The saga involving Chevron/Ecuador oil drilling and litigation is a fascinating and factually intense story of mass tort litigation at its most extreme. The overall events and recent trial have it all – rampant oil production, oil in the ground in places and amounts that should not exist, arguments over what is “pollution,”  jockeying between lawsuits on two continents, use of arbitration to influence litigation, corporate over-reaching/greed, plaintiff lawyer passion and perhaps greed, a smart and opinionated jurist in the US, Ecuadorian judges as witnesses and jurists, the massive horsepower (and bills) of “big law,” the power of media spin, litigation funding, and huge egos. It also appears there was indeed some level of judicial and government corruption in Ecuador, induced – it appears – by all sides.

How to sort it all out? There is no one answer. That said, Michael Goldhaber – a very smart international lawyer and AmLaw writer –  provides excellent and condensed insight into the story in a new online Amazon Kindle book for only $2.99. The aptly titled book is : “Crude Awakening: Chevron in Ecuador.”  A sample  is online at  American Lawyer.

“Crude Awakening”  is great reading for anyone involved with mass torts. The book also includes some philosophic  comments from Michael, and they too are valuable. Indeed, one reads them and suspects Michael wrote the book in part to have a forum for expressing the views, which in general, are views that make sense to me. But I’m biased, I believe in greater transparency and more unbiased, non-partisan intersections between science and law. For example, my view is that we need far more neutral experts to help judges with complex, time-consuming science.

The bottom line? Read the book – it’s an easy read – the writing is intelligent and crisp, and distills out key elements from a massive story that deserves more attention for larger lessons that can be learned. Reality is far more complicated than the soundbites issued by both sets of partisans.

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