It’s been an embarrassing year for those behind Ecuador’s decades-long legal and PR battle against Chevron.
Last spring, U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York ruled that a $9.5 billion Ecuadorian judgment against Chevron for alleged contamination was the product of fraud and racketeering activity, finding it unenforceable. The ruling found that Steven Donziger, the lead American lawyer behind the Ecuadorian lawsuit against the company, violated the federal Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO), committing extortion, money laundering, wire fraud, Foreign Corrupt Practices Act violations, witness tampering and obstruction of justice in obtaining the Ecuadorian judgment and in trying to cover up his and his associates’ crimes.
Then, last month, Donziger’s friend and college roommate, James Russell DeLeon, the "largest funder of the $9.5 billion Ecuadorian suits against Chevron", backed out of the case — pledging "to give no more money and to turn over his entire stake in the judgement to Chevron."
Along the way, anti-Chevron activists were also caught recruiting "phony paid protesters” to picket the Chevron’s annual meeting in Midland, Texas.
Now, comes another embarrassment for the pro-Ecuador side, courtesy of … Sharon Stone? Yes.
For years, Ecuador has retained a Brooklyn-based PR firm, MCSquared, for its PR offensive against Chevron. In December, Chevron was granted the ability to conduct discovery regarding the Ecuador’s $6.4 million contract with the PR firm.
Among other things, MCSquared has been involved with the hiring of “celebrities, such as Mia Farrow and Danny Glover, for speaking engagements in the country, ostensibly to bring media attention to the Chevron lawsuit. As this Investors Business Daily editorial points out, Farrow was hired for a reported $188,000 for a speaking engagement in the country. Farrow later disputed the size of the payment, but tweets from her defending her involvement were later deleted.
Now, in a humorous twist, MCSquare has filed a lawsuit related to the Ecuador case — against celebrity actress and activist Sharon Stone.
The agency is claiming that Stone breached a contract that paid her booking agency more than $350,000 to appear on a speaking tour in Ecuador to draw attention to what that nation alleges is contamination of the Amazon caused by Chevron.
According to a report in the New York Daily News, Stone fell ill in Brazil and was hospitalized, causing her to miss her three days of paid appearances on only 2 hours notice.
What’s more, the PR firm is detailing Stone’s "diva"-like requests, such as first class airfare, luxury hotel suites for her and three companions, hair and makeup stylists, and personal tour guides.
To make things worse for MCSquared, it appears that there’s no actual written contact for Stone’s services. The lawsuit itself describes only an oral agreement termed “a meeting of the minds” in the lawsuit.
In the Sharon Stone case, MCSquared is contending that, as they didn’t have a replacement celebrity at the ready when Stone became suddenly unavailable, they were further damaged when their multi-million dollar contract with Ecuador wasn’t renewed.
Maybe MCSquared should have trusted their, ahem, basic instincts and never hired Ms. Stone in the first place.
This is just the latest embarrassment in what has been a legal and public relations nightmare for those behind the ridiculous, costly and “fraudulent” litigation against Chevron.