Texaco/Chevron lawsuits (re Ecuador)
Para la versión en español de este perfil de las demandas judiciales contra Texaco/Chevron por actividades en Ecuador, haga clic acá.
United States lawsuits
In 1993, a group of Ecuadorian citizens of the Oriente region filed a class action lawsuit in US federal court against Texaco (Aguinda v. Texaco), and in 1994 a group of Peruvian citizens living downstream from the Oriente region also filed a class action lawsuit against Texaco in US federal court (Jota v. Texaco). Both complaints alleged that between 1964 and 1992 Texaco’s oil operations polluted the rainforests and rivers in Ecuador and Peru, resulting in environmental damage and damage to the health of those who live in the region. Both lawsuits were dismissed by the US federal court in 2002 on forum non conveniens grounds (i.e., the court stated that Ecuador was a more appropriate venue for litigating these claims). In connection with the dismissal, Texaco agreed that courts in Ecuador and/or Peru would have jurisdiction over the plaintiffs' claims.
Ecuadorian legal proceedings
In 2003, a class action lawsuit was brought against Texaco (acquired by Chevron in 2001) in Ecuador alleging severe environmental contamination of the land where Texaco conducted its oil operation activities. The plaintiffs alleged that this contamination has led to increased rates of cancer as well as other serious health problems for the residents of the region. Judicial inspections of the allegedly contaminated sites commenced in August 2004. In early 2008, an independent expert recommended to the court that Chevron should pay $7-16 billion in compensation for the pollution. This expert increased his estimate of damages to $27 billion in November 2008. In 2008, Chevron reportedly lobbied the US Government to end trade preferences with Ecuador over this lawsuit. Following allegations of judicial misconduct, the original trial judge recused himself from the case and a new judge was appointed. Following a successful petition in US court to receive unused footage from the documentary "Crude", Chevron filed a petition with the court in August 2010 seeking to dismiss the lawsuit based on the company's assertion that certain parts of this footage show alleged fraud on the part of the plaintiffs. In September 2010, the plaintiffs submitted a new assessment of damages for the claims stating that the cost would be between $90 and $113 billion. In the same month, the judge concluded the evidentiary phase of the lawsuit. On 14 February 2011, the Ecuadorian judge issued a ruling against Chevron in the lawsuit. Chevron was ordered to pay $8.6 billion in damages and clean up costs, with the damages increasing to $18 billion if Chevron does not issue a public apology. Chevron indicated that it believes the ruling is "illegitimate" and "unenforceable", and it filed an appeal. On 3 January 2012 a panel of three judges from the Provincial Court of Justice of Sucumbios upheld the February 2011 ruling against Chevron. On 20 January 2012, Chevron appealed the decision with Ecuador's National Court of Justice. In March 2012, Chevron asked the Provincial Court of Justice for the fourth time to block the Ecuadorian Government from enforcing the $18 billion judgment against it. On 28 March 2012, the court ruled that Chevron was not entitled to use an order from the international arbitration tribunal, which asked Ecuador's Government to suspend the litigation, to block the plaintiffs from enforcing the judgment. In an effort to enforce the judgment, the Ecuadorian plaintiffs filed a lawsuit in Canada in May 2012 and one in Brazil in June 2012 targetting Chevron's assets in those countries. On 6 August 2012, the Ecuadorian court ruled that Chevron had until the end of the day to pay the $19 billion judgment. The award was increased in July 2012, after Judge Ortiz calculated various mandatory costs required by Ecuadorian law. In October 2012, the Ecuadorian court issued an order permitting the plaintiffs to seize about $200 million of Chevron's assets located in the country, in an effort to collect on the judgment against the company. On 12 November 2013, Ecuador Supreme Court upheld the August 2012 ruling against Texaco/Chevron for environmental damage but halved damages to $9.51 billion.
In September 2014, Chevron reportedly filed a claim against Woodsford Litigation Funding, which had financed lawyers working on enforcing the $9.5 billion Ecuadorian judgement against Chevron. Chevron claims the judgement was achieved by fraud and bribery.
International arbitration proceedings
In December 2006, and again in September 2009, Chevron filed an international arbitration claim before the Permanent Court of Arbitration at the Hague, alleging that the Government of Ecuador violated an US-Ecuador bilateral investment treaty. Chevron claimed that the Government of Ecuador violated international law by unduly influencing the judiciary and thereby compromising the judiciary's independence. In March 2010 the arbitration panel ruled that Ecuador's government had violated the bilateral investment treaty and international law by delaying rulings on the commercial dispute currently pending in Ecuador's courts. The Government of Ecuador and the plaintiffs in the Ecuadorian lawsuit filed a lawsuit in US federal court seeking an injunction barring Chevron from proceeding with arbitration under the bilateral investment treaty. The parties argued that due process rights in Ecuador would be denied should Chevron proceed with its arbitration. In March 2010 the US court ruled that Chevron may pursue international arbitration in this case. The plaintiffs and Government of Ecuador have appealed this ruling. In an effort to prove its case, Chevron has sued in ten different US federal courts to try and obtain discovery documents from various consultants the plaintiffs engaged in the assessment of damages. In February 2011 the international arbitration panel issued an Interim Measures Order in favour of Chevron ordering Ecuador to take all measures to suspend enforcement of the Ecuadorian judgment. In February 2012 the arbitration panel met to review Ecuador's compliance with the Interim Measures Order. In February 2013 the arbitration tribunal ruled that Ecuador had not complied with the Interim Measures Order.
US legal proceedings following Ecuadorian judgment
Chevron filed a racketeering lawsuit against the plaintiffs' lawyers and representatives in US federal court on 1 February 2011. This lawsuit alleges that the plaintiffs' lawyers and representatives have conspired to extort up to $113 billion from Chevron through the Ecuadorian legal proceedings. In addition, Chevron obtained a temporary restraining order from a US federal judge, Lewis Kaplan, on 9 February 2011 enjoining the plaintiffs from attempting to enforce a judgment in the Ecuadorian legal proceedings in the United States. This temporary restraining order was extended in March 2011 and later appealed by the plaintiffs. Meanwhile, a US law firm has filed its own lawsuit against Chevron and Chevron's US legal counsel claiming that they have illegally interfered with its representation of the claimants in the legal proceedings. On 19 September 2011, the US federal appeals court lifted the lower court’s order preventing enforcement of the Ecuadorian judgment. The court also ordered a stay of the racketeering case that Chevron filed against the plaintiffs. On 29 November 2011, Chevron filed a pre-trial motion to seize assets of the Ecuadorian plaintiffs in the racketeering lawsuit. In January 2012, US federal judge rejected Chevron’s request, stating it could be renewed at a later date. On 5 January 2012, Chevron asked the US federal appeals court to restore the injunction enjoining the plaintiffs from enforcing the Ecuadorian judgment. On 19 January 2012, the court rejected Chevron’s request. On 26 January 2012, explaining its previous decision, the court of appeals ruled that Judge Kaplan lacked authority to block the enforcement of the $18 billion judgment. On 15 May 2012, the district judge overseeing the racketeering lawsuit allowed for the racketeering claims to continue, while dismissing claims of fraud. In October 2012 the US Supreme Court refused to hear Chevron's appeal of the lower court's decision ruling that Judge Kaplan lacked authority to issue the injunction blocking enforcement of the Ecuadorian judgment. In July-August 2013, US federal courts upheld subpoenas served by Chevron on Microsoft, Google and Yahoo! demanding private user information about environmental advocates, journalists, lawyers and others. Chevron sought this as part of its fraud lawsuit against certain Ecuadorian oil pollution plaintiffs and their lawyers.
In October 2014, Ecuadorian rainforest communities filed a communication at the International Criminal Court in respect of Chevron chief executive’s acts to prevent the ordered clean-up of toxic waste in the Amazon.
- "Ecuador court deals Chevron fresh blow in pollution case", Reuters, 16 Oct 2012
- "Chevron fails to squelch $19 billion Ecuador verdict", Paul Barrett Bloomberg Businessweek, 9 Oct 2012
- "Chevron Faces Midnight Deadline in $19 Billion Ecuador Judgment", Environment News Service 6 Aug 2012
- "Ecuador plaintiffs target Chevron's assets in Brazil", Eduardo Garcia, Reuters, 28 Jun 2012
- "Ecuador plainitffs file lawsuit in Canada against Chevron", Eduardo Garcia, Reuters, 30 May 2012
- "Chevron Gets Some Claims Dismissed From Ecuador Lawsuit (Update 2)", Patricia Hurtado, Bob Van Voris, Bloomberg 15 May 2012
- "Ecuadorian panel again squashes Chevron motion to block judgment", Jessica M. Karmasek, Legal Newsline, 2 Apr 2012
- "Ecuadoreans Blast 'Secret' Hague Tribunal Convened for Chevron", Adam Klasfeld, Courthouse News Service, 10 Feb 2012
- "Circuit Faults Use of State Law to Block Chevron Judgment", Mark Hamblett, New York Law Journal, 27 Jan 2012
- "Ecuador Update: One Door Shuts, Another Opens, and Chevron Lists Its Law Firms—All 39 of Them", Michael D. Goldhaber, Am Law Daily, 24 Jan 2012
- "Chevron Appeals Ruling In Ecuadorian Court", Dow Jones Newswires, 20 Jan 2012
- "So much for Plan B: Kaplan denies Chevron attachment motion", Alison Frankel, Reuters, 6 Jan 2012
- "Reversal of Fortune", Patrick Radden Keefe, New Yorker, 9 Jan 2012 [subscription only]
- "Chevron to fight Ecuador ruling", Naomi Mapstone, Financial Times, 6 Jan 2012
- "Chevron Bid to Dismiss $18 Billion Judgment Rejected in Ecuador Court", Karen Gullo & Mark Chediak, Bloomberg, 4 Jan 2012
- [Español] "Corte de Ecuador ratifica fallo contra petrolera Chevron", Reuters 3 Jan 2012
- "U.S. court rules against Chevron in Ecuador case", David R. Baker, San Francisco Chronicle, 20 Sep 2011
- [Español] "Corte de EEUU apoya a Ecuador en cuantioso juicio contra Chevron", AP, 19 Sep 2011
- "Ecuador: finally, the polluter is commanded to pay", Independent, 16 Feb 2011
- "Chevron Fined $8.6 Billion in Epic Environmental Case", Frank Bajak & Gonzalo Solano, Associated Press, 15 Feb 2011
- "Federal Judge Blocks Enforcement of Likely Judgment Against Chevron", Mark Hamblett, New York Law Journal, 9 Feb 2011
- "Law firm fires back at Chevron in Ecuador case", Dan Levine, Reuters, 8 Feb 2011
- "Year 18 of Ecuador vs. Chevron Pollution Dispute", Michael D. Goldhaber, American Lawyer, 23 Sep 2010
- "Chevron keeps up pressure in Ecuador suit", David R. Baker, San Francisco Chronicle, 7 Sep 2010
- "Chevron wins an Ecuador claim, awaits major ruling", Braden Reddall, Reuters, 30 Mar 2010
-"Texaco Toxic Past Haunts Chevron as Judgment Looms", Michael Smith & Karen Gullo, Bloomberg, 30 Dec 2008
- "Chevron Estimate for Amazon Damages Rises by $11 Billion", Karen Gullo, Bloomberg, 27 Nov 2008
- "A $16 Billion Problem", Michael Isikoff, Newsweek, 26 Jul 2008
- [Español] "Nueve ecuatorianos demandan a Texaco", Olga Imbaquingo, Diario el Comercio [Ecuador], 26 abril 2006
- "Amazon Indians Say Texaco Left Damage", Gonzalo Solano, Associated Press, 20 Oct 2005
- “Chevron Trial Opens”, Alan Zibel, Oakland Tribune, 21 Oct 2003
- Chevron: "Chevron Statement on United States Second Circuit Court of Appeals Order", 19 Sep 2011
- Chevron: "Ecuador Lawsuit - Facts about Chevron and Texaco in Ecuador"
- Chevron: "Ecuador Lawsuit - Press Releases"
- Texaco: "History of Texaco and Chevron in Ecuador" [includes links to US court decisions, certain filings by Texaco and status of Ecuadorian proceedings]
- Texaco: [Español] "Texaco en Ecuador" [incluye enlaces a decisiones judiciales en los EEUU, varios documentos de Texaco y el estado actual de los procedimientos en Ecuador – material sólo en inglés]
- Amazon Defense Coalition [NGO supporting plaintiffs]: "Chevron's $27 Billion Catastrophe"
- Amazon Defense Coalition: "Press Releases"
- Amazon Defense Coalition: "Key Documents & Court Filings from Aguinda Legal Team"
- Earthrights International [filed brief in support of plaintiffs in the US proceedings]: "Amicus Brief in Jota v. Texaco and Aguida v. Texaco"
- [PDF] [Español] Fallo de la Corte Provincial de Justicia de Sucumbíos en el caso Maria Aguida y Otros, Corte Provincial de Justicia de Sucumbíos, 15 octubre 2012
- [PDF] [Español] Fallo de la Corte Provincial de Justicia de Sucumbíos en el caso Maria Aguida y Otros contra Chevron Corporation, Corte Provincial de Justicia de Sucumbíos, 28 marzo 2012
- [PDF] Chevron Corporation v Camacho Naranjo, et al- Order, US Court of Appeal for the Second Circuit, 19 Jan 2012
- [PDF] [Español] Juez ponente: Dr. Milton Toral Zevallos - Corte provincial de justicia de Sucumbíos, Sala única de la corte provincial de justicia de Sucumbíos, 3 de enero 2012
- [PDF] Provincial Court of Justice of Sucumbios, 3 Jan 2012 [English translation of appeals court decision]
- [PDF] Chevron Corporation v Steven Donziger et al - Memorandum Opinion, US District Court Southern District of New York, 6 Jan 2012
- [PDF] Chevron's appeal to Chief Judge of Sucumbios Provincial Court, 21 Mar 2011
- [PDF] Chevron Corporation v. Camacho Naranjo, et al. - Summary Order, US Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, 19 Sep 2011
- [PDF] [Español] Juez ponente: AB. Nicolas Zambrano Lozada - Corte Provincial de Justicia Sucumbíos, Corte Provincial de Justicia Sucumbíos [Ecuador], 14 de febrero de 2011 [Fallo completo en el caso por daños ambientales contra Chevron]
- [PDF] Provincial Court of Sucumbios - Judgment of Case No. 2003-0002, 14 Feb 2011 [English translation of decision issued by the Provincial Court of Sucumbios, Ecuador]
All components of this story
Lawyers for Ecuadorian villagers to ask Canadian court to enforce US$9.5 billion Ecuadorian judgement against Chevron over oil pollution
Author: Charmaine Noronha, Associated Press
“Ecuadorian Chevron oil pollution case goes before Canadian high court”, 11 Dec 2014
Lawyers for…Ecuadoran villagers are asking Canada's high court…to grant…access to Canadian courts to enforce a US$9.5-billion Ecuadorian judgment against Chevron…for rainforest damage…The[ plaintiffs argue] that the case should be heard in Canada because Chevron has a Canadian subsidiary…Chevron… argues that a 1998 agreement Texaco signed with Ecuador after a US$40 million cleanup absolves it of liability…The…plaintiffs said the cleanup was a sham and didn't exempt third-party claims. The [Ecuadorians’] lawyer…has sought to have the judgment enforced in Canada, Brazil and Argentina. They have not pursued Chevron in the [USA] where a New York judge ruled…that…the judgment from…Ecuador…was obtained fraudulently…That…decision is now being appealed…[Chevron]…has argued that its Canadian subsidiary had nothing to do with the…lawsuit, and that allowing the action to proceed would violate…the "corporate veil," which says that subsidiaries…are not liable for actions of the parents. It noted the parent company has no assets in Ontario…
- Related stories: Texaco/Chevron lawsuits (re Ecuador)
- Related in-depth areas: Latest Legal News
- Related companies: Chevron Texaco (part of Chevron)
Author: David Siegel, Law360
Rainforest communities in Ecuador have asked the International Criminal Court in the Hague to investigate alleged efforts by Chevron Corp. chief John Watson to obstruct court-ordered cleanup of toxic contamination in the Amazon...Chevron has fought the verdict...in both Ecuadorean and U.S. courts, claiming the decision was tainted by fraud that included an alleged bribe of the trial judge by plaintiffs' attorneys. The ICC complaint alleges that instead of complying with the Ecuadorean court order...Watson personally ordered the launching of “multiple collateral attacks” against the judgment and the lawyers who represented the affected communities...According to the complaint, an “attack” against a civilian population can be nonviolent in nature, and Chevron’s refusal to comply with court-ordered remediation efforts meet that standard because of the direct impact the pollution is having on the region’s inhabitants...Chevron spokesman Jim Craig characterized the ICC complaint as “another stunt” meant to distract attention from the merits of the underlying lawsuit in Ecuador...
Author: Eduardo Bernabé Toledo & Pablo Fajardo Mendoza, Legal representatives of victims
[Full text of the claim filed by Ecuadorians before the International Criminal Court]
Author: Andrew Gage, West Coast Environmental Law & Michael Byers, University of British Columbia, in Globe and Mail (Canada)
"Why climate litigation could soon go global", 9 Oct 2014
Climate change is no longer a distant threat…Canadian oil and gas companies could soon find themselves on the hook for at least part of the damage. For as climate change costs increase, a global debate has begun about who should pay…So far, the fossil fuel industry has successfully opposed litigation for climate damages, brought in the United States by victims of hurricanes and sea level rise. But new areas of litigation often fail at first…It is becoming increasingly likely that companies could be sued by victims of climate change overseas, in countries with quite different legal systems…Moreover, new laws could be introduced to facilitate climate litigation…We believe that a new global awareness of the moral and legal responsibilities of the carbon majors will lead to a wave of climate litigation. Foreign lawsuits – with damage awards that are potentially enforceable in Canada – will be difficult and expensive to defend. [Also refers to Canadian Natural Resources, Chevron, EnCana, Husky Energy, Suncor, Talisman]
Author: Michael Goldhaber, Litigation Daily (USA)
Good grief! In the last week of September, Chevron Corp. inspired a civil war in the Canadian bar, confirmed a revenge action against a British litigation funder and gave the Ecuadorean plaintiffs an opening to refill their war chest. Can't a global litigation columnist think about another case for a few months? In Canada, Chevron wishes to use the corporate form to shield itself from the Ecuadoreans' enforcement of their $9.5 billion environmental judgment. Now Canadian lawyers for aboriginal rights object to the Canadian bar's intervention on Chevron's side in the Canadian Supreme Court…The news emerged in Fortune that Chevron has filed suit in Gibraltar against Woodsford Litigation Funding, which was founded by an ex-Lovells partner. I previously reported on the revelation that Woodsford backed Donziger and predicted that Chevron would file suit…The moment the Dutch courts finally cleared the way for Chevron to collect a $106 million award from an old arbitration with Ecuador, the plaintiffs announced that they plan to seize the award in Ecuadorean court.
Dutch court upholds result of arbitration proceedings between Chevron & Ecuador, confirms judgement against Ecuador for $106 million; includes company statement
Author: Institute for Legal Reform (USA)
"Dutch Supreme Court: Ecuador Owes Chevron $106 Million", 29 Sep 2014
The Dutch Supreme Court has upheld an appellate court judgment "rejecting Ecuador’s attempt to escape a $106 million arbitration award against it in its fight with Chevron." The court found that Ecuador's...Bilateral Investment Treaty with the United States prevents the country from disputing the judgment. Because of that treaty...the arbitration "did not breach Ecuador's sovereignty."...Texaco, which merged with Chevron in 2001, originally filed the suits in Ecuadorean courts in the 1990's alleging that "Ecuador took a portion of the crude oil supplied at below-market price from Texaco and sold it on the international market." Ecuadorian courts...refused to hear the claims, so Chevron sought international arbitration in 2006. The arbitration proceedings resulted in a $106 million judgment against Ecuador...Ecuador sued in Dutch courts to overturn the decision, but that suit was dismissed in district and appellate court. The Supreme Court's ruling upholds those dismissals...
- Related stories: Ecuadorian oil pollution plaintiffs look to collect on judgment against Chevron via company's recent intl. arbitration award against Rep. of Ecuador Texaco/Chevron lawsuits (re Ecuador)
- Related in-depth areas: Latest Legal News
- Related companies: Chevron
Author: Shawn McCarthy, Globe and Mail (Canada)
Lawyers from across Canada are raising concerns – and in some cases resigning their memberships – over the Canadian Bar Association’s intervention on behalf of Chevron Corp. in a high-profile case involving Ecuadorean aboriginal people. Despite objections from several of its member groups, the CBA board confirmed…its decision to have Blake Cassels & Graydon LLP submit a brief to the Supreme Court of Canada over issues of corporate identity and the enforcement of foreign orders on Canadian companies. Critics raised a number of objections, including the involvement of Blakes, which does corporate work for Chevron in Calgary. The CBA’s original decision to intervene came after it referred the matter to its legislative and law reform committee, which recommended against proceeding.
Author: Adam Klasfeld, Courthouse News Service
Amazon rainforest residents plan to seize the $106 million in Chevron's assets in Ecuador, their lawyers said Tuesday…If successful, the seizure will mark the first time that Amazon residents received a penny of the $9.5 billion environment judgment that an Ecuadorean court issued three years ago. Indigenous and farmer Ecuadoreans have been fighting for more than 20 years to hold Chevron liable for its predecessor Texaco's drilling in Lago Agrio…On Friday, a Dutch court affirmed a $106 million judgment that Chevron won against the Ecuadorean government over an unrelated international arbitration dispute. Steven Donziger, a New York-based attorney who helped lead the Amazon litigation, said Tuesday that his former clients have a valid claim on that award because Ecuador's Supreme Court affirmed the judgment last year…Chevron meanwhile doubted that the…Lago Agrio [plaintiffs] could seize the arbitral award…
- Related stories: Chevron battles Ecuadorian oil pollution lawsuit in multiple countries Ecuadorian oil pollution plaintiffs look to collect on judgment against Chevron via company's recent intl. arbitration award against Rep. of Ecuador Texaco/Chevron lawsuits (re Ecuador) Show moreShow less
- Related in-depth areas: Latest Legal News
- Related companies: Chevron Texaco (part of Chevron)
Author: Roger Parloff, Fortune
Chevron has sued Woodsford Litigation Funding Ltd. for financing the lawyers who are trying to enforce a $9.5 billion environmental judgment against the oil giant that was obtained in Lago Agrio, Ecuador, in 2011. Chevron contends—and, last March, a federal judge in Manhattan held—that the judgment was procured by fraud, bribery, and many other crimes. Chevron’s suit against the funder—filed in Gibraltar last June, but not previously reported—alleges that Woodsford conspired with the leaders of the Ecuadorian litigation to advance “a dishonest and fraudulent prosecution of a claim” against the company…Woodsford has not yet filed papers in Gibraltar responding to the complaint. A spokesman for Woodsford denied that it was inappropriate to provide a loan at the stage it did, but he declined to elaborate.
Author: The Chevron Pit
[Business & Human Rights Resource Centre invited Chevron to respond. Response provided.] A legal decision handed down last week…found that BP's "gross negligence" caused the Deepwater Horizon blowout in the Gulf of Mexico…Judge Barbier's finding underscores the obvious racism behind Chevron CEO John Watson's claim that the company's $9.5 billion judgment in Ecuador represents some sort of gouging by that country's courts. While BP pays for its spill, Chevron has managed to obtain effective impunity…BP's liability for the less impactful Gulf spill in the U.S. is now five times higher…than Chevron's in Ecuador. Yet Chevron's contamination in Ecuador is more widespread, has lasted far longer, was deliberate, has severely impacted indigenous groups, and is afflicting the world's most delicate ecosystem…[L]et's speak the unpleasant truth about environmental racism in the oil industry today. The truth is that in Ecuador, the victims of Chevron's contamination are Ecuadorian indigenous peoples and poor villagers. In the U.S., the victims are Americans…[Also refers to Andarko Petroleum]