Cases & Deals

Chevron wins Ninth Circuit affirmance of jury verdict in highly publicized Nigerian human rights case

Client(s) Chevron Corporation

On September 10, 2010, the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit affirmed the jury verdict in favor of Jones Day client Chevron Corporation and two of its subsidiaries in a highly publicized Alien Tort Statute case. Jones Day defended Chevron at trial and in the Ninth Circuit. The case was one of the first Alien Tort Statute cases to go to a jury and has great significance for multinational corporations operating in foreign countries. The Firm's defense victory for Chevron also was recognized as California's top defense verdict for 2008 by leading legal publication The Daily Journal.

The case arose from the 1998 takeover by Nigerian villagers of an off-shore platform and barge of Chevron Nigeria Ltd. The plaintiffs sued Chevron and its subsidiaries for injuries that they allegedly sustained when the Nigerian government intervened. They asserted claims for torture and cruel, inhumane and degrading treatment under international law, as well as assault, battery, and negligence under California and Nigerian law. After 10 years of fierce litigation and a five-week trial, the jury returned a complete defense verdict after nine hours of deliberations.

In affirming the jury's verdict, the Ninth Circuit unanimously rejected the plaintiffs' argument that the jury's verdict resulted from erroneous jury instructions and evidentiary rulings. The Ninth Circuit also affirmed the district court's legal rulings, and adopted Jones Day's argument that the Torture Victim's Protection Act ("TVPA") does not apply to corporations.

Bowoto v. Chevron Corporation, No. C 99-02506 SI (N.D. Cal.); Bowoto v. Chevron Corporation, 621 F.3d 1116 (9th Circuit 2011)