From The Nation:
Early in April, the California-based Unocal Corporation announced it was being bought out by its neighbor, the oil giant ChevronTexaco. Splashed across the business pages, the news overshadowed another announcement, made much more quietly two weeks earlier: that Unocal had agreed to pay to settle a long-running lawsuit charging the oil company with assisting and encouraging the torture, murder and rape of Burmese villagers by government soldiers so that Unocal could build a gas pipeline. The timing of these two announcements is no coincidence, and it underscores just how seriously these legal cases are now being taken in corporate boardrooms. Once considered mere nuisances, lawsuits implicating corporations in international human rights abuses have become major obstacles to corporate profitability and prospects.