Two stories in today’s paper about high consequences for corporate greed—and both of them have significant environmental as well as business ethics interest.
First, a local company here in Massachusetts, Stevens Urethane, faces a five-year ban on manufacturing a technology used in making solar panels, as well as more than $8.6 million in assorted fines, penalties, and other costs. The company was found guilty of stealing the secrets of a competitor, and the judge’s ruing not only impounded more than a million dollars worth of revenue, but forbade the company from using a $2 million assembly line it had built to make the product. Punitive damages, attorneys’ fees, and reimbursement of the other side’s legal and expert witness fees combined to create the $8.6 million total.
But the cost of this business ethics failure is only 1/1000th of the costs slapped onto oil giant Chevron by the government of Ecuador. While the $8.6 billion amount was less than 1/3 of the court-appointed expert’s recommendation, it is still the largest damage award ere in an environmental damage lawsuit (and probably the first of many more around the world against oil companies, which have been sued for habitat destruction in Nigeria and elsewhere).
Ironically, this suit had originally been filed in US courts against Texaco (now owned by Chevron), and the company’s attorneys successfully argued that the case should be heard in Ecuador.