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Carijano v. Occidental Petroleum Corp.

ELR Citation: 40 ELR 20039
Nos. Nos. 08-56187, -56270, (9th Cir., 12/06/2010)

The Ninth Circuit reversed a lower court decision dismissing a Peruvian Achuar indigenous group's lawsuit against an oil company for environmental contamination and the release of hazardous wastes. The complaint alleges that, during its 30 years in the Achuar territories, the oil company knowingly utilized out-of-date methods for separating crude oil that contravened United States and Peruvian law, resulting in the discharge of millions of gallons of toxic oil byproducts into the area's waterways. The lower court granted the company's motion to dismiss based on the doctrine of forum non conveniens. But because the company failed to meet its burden of demonstrating that Peru is a more convenient forum, and because the lower court gave insufficient weight to the strong presumption in favor of a domestic plaintiff's choice of forum, the lower court's dismissal was reversed and remanded.