Susan Farbstein selected as finalist for the 2010 Trial Lawyer of the Year Award
June 10, 2010, Cambridge, MA - The legal team for the plaintiffs in Wiwa v. Royal Dutch/Shell, including Lecturer on Law and Clinical Litigation Fellow Susan Farbstein, has been selected as a finalist for the 2010 Trial Lawyer of the Year Award. The Public Justice Foundation presents this award each year to the attorney or attorneys who have made the most outstanding contribution to the public interest through precedent-setting litigation.
The Wiwa case, filed under the Alien Tort Statute (ATS), charged Royal Dutch/Shell with complicity in the torture and killing of Ogoni leader Ken Saro-Wiwa and other non-violent Nigerian activists in the Ogoni region of the Niger Delta in the 1990s. The parties agreed to settle the suit in June 2009. The settlement provided a total of $15.5 million to compensate ten plaintiffs, including family members of the deceased victims, and to establish a trust to benefit the Ogoni people.
During the spring 2009 term, Farbstein supervised a team of more than a dozen students who supported the litigation by conducting legal research on complex evidentiary issues and assisting in drafting motions in limine and other pre-trial briefing. She continued to work as a member of the legal team in May and June 2009 to achieve settlement.
“I am truly humbled to be part of a team that has been selected for this honor,” said Farbstein. “The real award is being able to do work that I feel passionate about—and that makes a difference for our clients—with colleagues and students who are so talented and committed.”
Judith Chomsky, a cooperating attorney with the Center for Constitutional Rights who initiated the suit back in 1996, noted that the Clinic was crucial to the success of the case.
“The legal work of Susan Farbstein and her students was first-rate, and their enthusiasm and dedication reinvigorated us all,” said Chomsky.
Lead trial counsel Paul Hoffman also praised the ongoing work of the Clinic in international human rights litigation.
“Susan Farbstein and Harvard Human Rights Clinic provided invaluable assistance to the litigation team in the Wiwa v. Shell case and contributed mightily to the successful settlement,” said Hoffman. “The Clinic has become an indispensable part of the international human rights litigation landscape.”
Both Hoffman and Chomsky have worked with the Clinic for a number of years. In addition to the Wiwa case, the two are co-counsel with the Clinic on In re Apartheid Litigation, an ATS suit against major corporations for their complicity in human rights violations in apartheid South Africa, and on Mamani v. Sanchez de Lozada, an ATS case against the former Bolivian president and defense minister concerning a 2003 civilian massacre.
The winner of the 2010 Trial Lawyer of the Year Award will be announced on July 13, 2010.