“Crude” Director Ordered to Testify

After being ordered to turn over some footage from his documentary “Crude,” filmmaker Joe Berlinger now is being ordered to testify in Chevron’s case involving an environmental class action suit in Ecuador.

In July, a federal appellate court ruled that Berlinger had to turn over footage from the documentary that might be relevant to the oil giant’s claims that it is a victim of government corruption and judicial misconduct.

But on Tuesday, U.S. District Judge Lewis Kaplan, who had originally ruled that Berlinger had to turn over all 600 hours of outtakes from his project before the scope was narrowed by the appellate court, said that the director now has to testify because, as it turns out, some 85% of the footage is relevant. He wrote that it is “exceptionally likely that Berlinger and his associates have information that is highly relevant and that does not appear either in ‘Crude’ or in the outtakes. Chevron’s quest for discovery is no fishing expedition.”

He also scolded Berlinger and his attorney, writing that they “made representations about the contents of the outtakes that proved inaccurate.”

Reps for Berlinger could not immediately be reached.

Kaplan also attempted to resolve disputes between Chevron and Berlinger on the extent to which he has complied with the appellate court’s order to turn over tapes. Although some issues remain, Chevron acknowledges that Berlinger has “substantially complied,” Kaplan wrote.

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