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Apropos Philadelphia trial lawyers

In the anti-Chevron movie, "Crude," New York trial lawyer Steven Donziger brings an Ecuadorian attorney and an activist to Philadelphia to meet with Joe Kohn of Kohn, Swift and Graf, the firm financing the litigation. They're there to make the pitch for more money to continue their suit claiming that Chevron is responsible for environmental damage caused by Texaco (which it bought in 2001). Kohn comments on camera:

It is still a long road. It's been 13 years. It was not taken as a pro bono case. You know, a lot of my motivation is that I think at the end of the day it will be a lucrative case for the firm, and I think put us in a position to do more of these kind of cases, but you know, it's going to be a long haul and there's a lot of risk to get there. See, I think we're on the right side of the cause.

Director Joe Berlinger laughably asserts he's produced an objective film, but "Crude" fully accepts the theory of the litigation and campaign against Chevron. Nevertheless, the film does do a good job of representing how Donziger conducts the litigation -- bullying his opponents, coaching Ecuadorians to maximize their emotional impact, and worrying more about PR than the law.

And you do get to see Kohn say, "A lot of my motivation is I think at the end of the day it will be a lucrative case for the firm..."

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Rafael Mangual
Project Manager,
Legal Policy

Manhattan Institute


Published by the Manhattan Institute

The Manhattan Insitute's Center for Legal Policy.