Texaco/Chevron lawsuits (re Ecuador)

Chevron in Ecuador By: Cancillería Ecuador, Creative CommonsPara 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.

LA_MANO_SUCIA_DE_CHEVRON_Credit_CancillerEcuador_via_Wikimedia_CommonsInternational 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.  

In March 2015, the arbitration tribunal held that the settlement between Chevron and Ecuador did not preclude residents from suing over the pollution in the future. The tribunal has yet to consider whether the issuing of the Ecuadorian judgment was in violation of the investment agreement with Texaco.  

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.

International proceedings
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] [EspañolFallo 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] [EspañolFallo 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] [EspañolJuez 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]  

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Article
6 August 2015

US court rules in favour of Chevron in arbitration dispute; Ecuadorian Govt. to pay compensation

Author: AFP

“US appeals court orders Ecuador to pay $96 mn to Chevron”

A US federal appeals court on Tuesday upheld a $96 million award that Ecuador must pay oil giant Chevron in an arbitration of their dispute over Chevron's investments in the country. Judge Robert Wilkins, of the US Court of Appeals in the District of Columbia, concluded that by signing the investment treaty with the United States, which took effect in 1997, "Ecuador made a standing offer to American investors to arbitrate disputes involving investments that existed on or after the treaty's effective date." The court thus upheld the previous decision of the DC federal court and validated the finding of a three-member tribunal based at The Hague…Chevron, in a statement in Spanish, said it was "pleased" with the appeals court decision that confirms a "$106 million" award, an amount that includes interest…In a separate case, brought by the indigenous people of Ecuador's Lago Agrio region to win compensation for the mass dumping of oilfield waste between the 1970s and 1990s, an Ecuadoran court ordered Chevron to pay $9.5 billion in damages…

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Article
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Author: RFI

“Corte de EE.UU. ordena a Ecuador pagar 96 millones USD a Chevron”

…Un tribunal de apelaciones de Estados Unidos ha ratificado un fallo arbitral que ordenaba al gobierno de Rafael Correa pagarle a Chevron 96 millones de dólares por no respetar un acuerdo bilateral de inversiones. La disputa se remonta a 1973 cuando la empresa Texaco, ahora Chevron, firmó un acuerdo con Quito para extraer petróleo a cambio de que parte de ese crudo se vendiera a precios bajos en el mercado interno ecuatoriano. Pero más adelante, los estadounidenses denunciaron la violación de ese contrato, denuncias que continuaron hasta la ruptura de relaciones en 1995…Aunque el tratado de inversiones entró en vigor dos años después de que Chevron y Quito terminaran sus obligaciones contractuales, para los jueces, incluidos los que ratificaron la decisión este martes en la Corte de Apelaciones del Distrito de Columbia, las demandas de Chevron son una continuación de sus inversiones iniciales en el país andino. El gobierno del presidente Correa, que ya rechazó el fallo, aún puede recurrir a instancias superiores…incluida la Corte Suprema…La petrolera Chevron, por su parte, se dijo "complacida" por la decisión este martes del Tribunal de Apelaciones del Distrito de Columbia.

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Article
23 April 2015

The Global Lawyer: Will Chevron Lose in the Second Circuit?

Author: Michael Goldhaber, Litigation Daily

Monday was not the first time that Chevron Corp. went to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit to evade a $9.5 billion Ecuadorean judgment over its legacy oil operations in the Amazon. And it wasn't the first time that, from Chevron's perspective, the show veered horribly off script…But the outcome of this oral argument is far less clear. That will not deter The Global Lawyer from reading the tea leaves…Second Circuit Judge Richard Wesley, who dominated the bench on Monday to such a degree that he seems likely to write the opinion, telegraphed a way around most of the anti-Chevron arguments…The more consequential drama came after Wesley pressed Olson on why Chevron didn't exhaust its local remedies by invoking Ecuador's Collusion Protection Act. Here's where the argument went off the rails.

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Article
22 April 2015

The Global Lawyer: Back to the Future for Chevron in Ecuador

Author: Michael Goldhaber, Litigation Daily

Last March, U.S. District Judge Lewis Kaplan concluded his 500-page opinion on the Ecuadorean litigation fraud against Chevron Corp. with a lament. We will never know, he wrote, whether the Ecuadorean plaintiffs had a legitimate claim against Chevron for pollution of the Amazon. The whole legal world nodded in agreement with the exception of one person: Judge Richard Wesley of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit. On Monday, the plaintiffs and their U.S. lawyer in the Ecuador suit, Steven Donziger, asked the Second Circuit to overturn Kaplan's epic ruling, which labeled Donziger a fraud and enjoined the plaintiffs from collecting a $9.5 billion tort judgment handed down by an Ecuadorean court.

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Article
21 April 2015

Analysis by Lindsay Ofrias on the Chevron vs Ecuador lawsuits

Author: Lindsay Ofrias, Upside Down World

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Article
20 April 2015

The Case That Could Redefine Mass Litigation Over Oil Spills, Work Hazards

Author: Paul Barratt, Bloomberg Business

Since it was enacted in 1970, federal prosecutors have used the Racketeer Influenced Corrupt Organizations (RICO) law for its original purpose: dismantling mob syndicates. Over the years, though, the law has become a weapon in commercial litigation, as well. On Monday, April 20, the influential U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit in New York will hear arguments on whether companies may use RICO to go after plaintiffs' attorneys whose lawsuits allegedly evolve into extortion schemes. How the New York court rules in a case involving Chevron and oil pollution in Ecuador could redefine the terms of mass litigation over such ills as pollution, workplace hazards, and job discrimination.

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Article
20 April 2015

U.S. court hears Chevron's fraud claims in $9.5 billion Ecuador dispute

Author: Nate Raymond, Reuters

Chevron urged a U.S. appeals court…to uphold a ruling finding that an American lawyer used corrupt means to secure a $9.5 billion pollution judgment in Ecuador. A lawyer for Chevron told the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New York that Steven Donziger, a U.S. lawyer who represented a group of Ecuadorians that sued the oil giant, pursued a case "shot through with fraud."…Olson asked the three-judge panel to uphold a ban on Donziger profiting from the case and from the attorney or villagers enforcing the judgment in the United States. But Donziger's lawyer said allowing Chevron to launch an "impermissible collateral attack" on a foreign judgment could prompt similar challenges in the future.

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Item
12 March 2015

Decision on Track 1B (Chevron & Texaco v. Ecuador) PCA Case No. 2009-23

Author: H. A. Grigera, V. Lowe & V.V. Veeder, Permanent Court of Arbitration

...By this decision in Track 1B of this arbitration, the Tribunal addresses a further part of the Parties’ dispute concerning the legal effect of the 1995 Settlement Agreement...made between the Second Claimant (“TexPet”) and the Respondent as signatories....[A]s regards the said Issue (ii) in Track 1B of this arbitration, the Tribunal decides (but does not award) that: (1) The Lago Agrio Complaint of...2003...included individual claims resting upon individual rights under Ecuadorian law, not falling within the scope of the 1995 Settlement Agreement (as invoked by the Claimants); (2) The Lago Agrio Complaint was not wholly barred at its inception by res judicata, under Ecuadorian law, by virtue of the 1995 Settlement Agreement (as invoked by the Claimants); and (3) The Lago Agrio Complaint included individual claims materially similar, in substance, to the individual claims made by the Aguinda Plaintiffs in New York...

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Article
12 March 2015

Ecuador lands a victory in Chevron's Hague challenge

Author: Adam Klasfeld, Courthouse News Service (USA)

Ecuador persuaded an arbitration tribunal in The Hague…that its settlement with Chevron did not necessarily preclude rainforest residents from suing over the same pollution that decades of oil drilling wrought in the rainforest…Chevron…[is suing] the Ecuadorean government…for alleged violations of a bilateral investment treaty…The first track of Chevron's claims attack[s] the…lawsuit under the settlement agreement, and the second contend[s] that a "denial of justice" took place in Ecuador.  Thursday's decision…rejects key claims within the first track…The second track revisits the…New York case, where a federal judge ruled last year that the verdict against Chevron had been "procured by corrupt means." Chevron's spokesman…[said]..."The Ecuadorean judgment against Chevron has been found…to be the product of fraud, corruption and bribery…Today's interim decision by the tribunal does not change that fact. It merely defers the question of whether in issuing that judgment Ecuador also breached its contractual agreements with Texaco."...

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Article
17 February 2015

Litigator Funder Who Helped Underwrite Ecuador Case Settles with Chevron

Author: Scott Flaherty, Litigation Daily (USA)

Chevron Corp.'s lawyers have picked off another target in their campaign against those involved in a lawsuit accusing the oil giant of damaging the Amazon rainforest in Ecuador. On Monday, a key financial supporter of the environmental litigation, Gibraltar-based billionaire James Russell DeLeon, renounced his association with the case. Chevron settled tort claims against DeLeon in Gibraltar over his funding of an Ecuadorean lawsuit…The deal with DeLeon comes almost a year after U.S. District Judge Lewis Kaplan…concluded that Steven Donziger, the lawyer who led the environmental suit against Chevron…, secured the massive judgment through fraud and racketeering…Under the settlement announced Monday, DeLeon…agreed to give up his seven percent stake in the $9.5 billion judgment. He also disassociated himself from the litigation and Donziger.

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