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. 

Proceedings in Ecuador
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 August 2011, the internatioanl arbitration tribunal awarded Chevron $96 million.

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.

In January 2016, the international arbitration tribunal ruled in favour of Chevron over Ecuador being bound by the US-Ecuador investment agreement. Ecuador said it will appeal the decision. 

In June 2016, The US Supreme Court declined to hear Ecuador's challenge to Chevron's arbitration award.

In July 216, Ecuador indicated that it had executed the arbitrary decision and paid the $112 million ($96 million award plus interrests) compensation to Chevron.

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 2013, Judge Kaplan ruled in favour of Chevron, and found that the lawyers for the Ecuadorian community had used fabricated evidence, made bribes and ghost-wrote court documents. The plaintiffs were therefore barred from collecting the $9.51 billion judgment because the "decision was obtained by corrupt means.”  The plaintiffs appealed arguing that the requirement that a US court recognizes a ruling of a foreign jurisdiction barred Chevron from challenging the judgement.

On 8 August 2016, a US court of appeals agreed with the lower court’s ruling that the Ecuadorian community cannot collect the USD 9.5 billion Ecuadorian judgement on the basis that judgment was obtained by corrupt means.  The lawyers for the Ecuadorian plaintiffs are examining further appeal options.

Canadian proceedings
In an effort to enforce the $9.51 billion Ecuadorian judgment, the Ecuadorian villagers filed a lawsuit in Canada in May 2012 targetting Chevron's assets in this country.  In September 2015, the Canadian Supreme Court ruled that the plaintiffs were able to sue Chevron and its Canadian subsidiary in Canada.  In September 2016, hearings began in Canada.

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.  In March 2015, the ICC prosecutor declined to hear the case on the basis that abuse happened in the 1990s, whereas the ICC can only hear cases occurring in 2002 or after, and the subject matter jurisdiction of the ICC did not cover environmental damage.

- "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 response to U.S. Court of Appeals decision", 22 Aug 2016
- "Chevron Statement on United States Second Circuit Court of Appeals Order", 19 Sep 2011
- The Amazon Post
- "Ecuador Lawsuit - Facts about Chevron and Texaco in Ecuador"
- "Ecuador Lawsuit - Press Releases"
- "History of Texaco and Chevron in Ecuador" [includes links to US court decisions, certain filings by Texaco and status of Ecuadorian proceedings]
- [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"
- "Press Releases"
- "Key Documents & Court Filings from Aguinda Legal Team
- "Communication to Office of the Prosecutor, ICC", Pablo Fajardo Mendoza & Eduardo Bernabé Toledo
- Earthrights International [filed brief in support of plaintiffs in the US proceedings]: "Amicus Brief in Jota v. Texaco and Aguida v. Texaco"

Court Documents
Letter from the Office of the Prosecutor, International Criminal Court, 16 March 2015
- [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
- [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
-  Chevron Corporation v Camacho Naranjo, et al- Order, US Court of Appeal for the Second Circuit, 19 Jan 2012
- [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
- Provincial Court of Justice of Sucumbios, 3 Jan 2012 [English translation of appeals court decision]
Chevron Corporation v Steven Donziger et al - Memorandum Opinion, US District Court Southern District of New York, 6 Jan 2012 
- Chevron's appeal to Chief Judge of Sucumbios Provincial Court, 21 Mar 2011
- Chevron Corporation v. Camacho Naranjo, et al. - Summary Order, US Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, 19 Sep 2011
- [EspañolJuez 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]
- 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
28 September 2016

Lawyer requests rehearing in US over decision in Chevron oil pollution in Ecuador lawsuit

Author: Amazon Defense Coalition, CSRwire (USA)

"Armed With New Evidence, Donziger Asks Full Appellate Court for Rehearing On Ecuador Environmental Case", 26 Sep 2016

In a new legal filing, the lawyer for New York human rights attorney Steven Donziger criticized a U.S. federal appellate court’s decision in favor of Chevron on the $9.5 billion Ecuador environmental judgment as “lawless” and urged the entire court to rehear the case taking into account critical new evidence...Deepak Gupta, a prominent appellate lawyer who represents Donziger, is seeking a rehearing...on various grounds...Gupta also attacked the court’s refusal to reconsider the flawed factual findings of controversial U.S. trial judge Louis A. Kaplan, who along with the appellate court ignored powerful new evidence that nullifies Chevron’s claims that the Ecuador judgment was the product of bribery...Gupta’s petition asserted the court was mistaken on several counts...The decision affirming Kaplan’s ruling represents the first time that U.S. court has allowed a party that lost a money judgment in a foreign country where it wanted the trial held to preemptively attack that judgment in a U.S. court, violating...international law...The decision violates a previous Second Circuit panel’s decision in the same case that barred a collateral attack on a foreign judgment in U.S. courts...[T]he decision contravenes a ruling of the highest court in a foreign country on a question of that country’s own law...The decision ignores critical factual developments since the end of the Kaplan trial that render the findings of the judge...completely moot...

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Article
14 September 2016

In Canada Trial, Chevron Fighting Desperately to Hide Embarrassing Information From Public

Author: Amazon Defense Coalition, CSRwire (USA)

Chevron lawyers and corporate executives are fighting desperately to prevent critical and apparently embarrassing information from spilling over into public view during the high-stakes enforcement trial over the Ecuador environmental judgment that began this week in a Canadian courtroom. In the enforcement trial...critical information in the main brief of the communities remained heavily redacted on the second day of the four-day proceeding – resulting in the odd spectacle of the villagers themselves and their supporters watching the argument of their own lawyer with no real way to completely understand what was being said...Lenczner, considered one of Canada’s foremost litigators, for weeks has been trying to convince Chevron to lift its “completely overbroad” confidentiality order, according to argument in court yesterday.  Lenczner claimed all of what Chevron wants redacted from his briefs is available publicly in the company’s annual reports and securities filings and is therefore not proprietary. Lenczner also argued that Chevron is obviously scared to have all the information about the corporate control of its subsidiary in one place rather than buried in obscure documents where the public would never be able to connect the dots that prove it is lying when it claims its Canadian subsidiary, Chevron Canada, is an independent entity...

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Article
12 September 2016

Epic court battle between Ecuadorian villagers and Chevron moves to Canada

Author: Paul Paz y Miño, Amazon Watch, Free Speech Radio News

The long-running lawsuit against Chevron over the dumping of toxic waste in the Amazonian region of Ecuador enters a new phase today. A court in Toronto, Canada will spend the week hearing arguments for and against seizing Canadian-held assets of the company to pay damages resulting from an eight-year long trial originally heard in Ecuador...Paul Paz y Miño, Associate Director at Amazon Watch, an environmental non-profit that has campaigned on behalf of affected communities for more than 15 years...[He said that] there’s quite a lot at stake, and it’s mostly because this case is probably one of the most clear cut cases of environmental violations that anyone has ever seen. And yet, despite that fact, 50 years after the deliberate dumping began, Chevron has still avoided having to pay to clean up their mess. That’s because they’ve spent billions of dollars to escape justice, and this raises the question in general, “What can corporations get away with and where can they flee to avoid justice when they’ve harmed people and the environment?”...The Canadian courts are going to decide, one, whether or not that argument works and Chevron Canada can escape and shouldn’t have to be part of the enforcement, and two, whether or not Chevron’s claims that the case should be thrown out are actually valid. That’s actually an entire, new saga of Chevron’s concocted story of a fraudulent case in Ecuador. They have zero respect for the courts of Ecuador, in fact, they and this U.S. Judge Kaplan decided and ruled that every single level of the Ecuadorian judicial system was corrupt and dismissed it completely out of hand. Fortunately, the Canadian justice system as a lot more respect for international law and for other countries...

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Article
24 August 2016

Commentary: US court denial of Ecuadorian judgment could be persuasive in Canadian lawsuit

Author: Michael D. Goldhaber, Law.com

“Chevron in Ecuador: Is the End in Sight?”, 22 Aug 2016 [Subscription required]

…Now that the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit has fully embraced Chevron Corp.’s view—that the Ecuadorean judgment against it was rotten with fraud— is there any chance that either side will give up the ghost of their case?...Pinning their hopes on Canada, the plaintiffs have stated that a “trial” will begin in September. What’s actually on deck is their motion to strike Chevron’s defenses to enforcement, and Chevron’s motion to dismiss for suing the wrong corporate entity. If those motions fail, then Chevron can argue that the Second Circuit ruling is binding or persuasive…[or] resubmit its undeniable evidence of fraud before another rational court…[T]he Union of Persons Affected by Texaco (led by counsel Pablo Fajardo) splintered from the Amazon Defense Front (allied with counsel Steven Donziger)…Ecuador owed about $100 million to Chevron from an old, unrelated arbitration. Plaintiffs had put a lien on that award…But Ecuador’s president needed to pay Chevron before he could issue $1 billion in sovereign bonds last month. The president got Fajardo to quietly release the plaintiffs’ lien so that Ecuador could pay the old debt to Chevron. When the Frente de Defense de la Amazonia got wind of what had happened, it denounced the Union de Afectados pour la Petrolera Texaco, and threatened to sue Fajardo…

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Company response
22 August 2016

Chevron response

Author: Chevron

...[T]he government of Ecuador [is]...using the indigenous people of the Amazon to mislead the public and extort money from Chevron Corporation...Texaco Petroleum (TexPet)...was a minority partner in an oil-production consortium in Ecuador...[I]n 1992, pursuant to an agreement with Ecuador, TexPet agreed to conduct a remediation of selected production sites while Petroecuador remained responsible to perform any remaining cleanup. The government of Ecuador oversaw and certified the successful completion of TexPet’s remediation and fully released TexPet from further environmental liability. Petroecuador, however, failed to conduct the cleanup it promised and has continued to operate and expand oil operations in the former concession over the past 20 years. In an amicus brief a group of international human rights and anti-corruption experts...stated, “Advocates for human rights do not advance human rights by violating them, and the corrupt pattern of fraud, extortion, and bribery described by the District Court, if accurate, denies the fundamental human rights to due process of law and a fair trial.”In 2014, a U.S. federal court found the Ecuadorian judgment against Chevron to be the product of “egregious fraud”. The nearly 500-page ruling, found that Steven Donziger, the lead American lawyer behind the Ecuadorian lawsuit against the company, violated the federal Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act...

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Article
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Author: Béatrice Héraud, Novethic (France) (copyright: www.novethic.fr)

Une cour d’appel de New York a confirmé le 8 août un jugement d’un tribunal américain favorable à Chevron datant de mars 2014. Celui-ci rejetait une amende de 9,5 milliards de dollars infligée au groupe par un tribunal équatorien en 2011 pour une pollution pétrolière de plusieurs décennies dans une partie de l’Amazonie.  

Chevron était poursuivi par 30 000 indigènes d'Amazonie, voulant faire saisir ses actifs aux États-Unis afin de récupérer les 9,5 milliards de l’amende infligée en 2011 et que Chevron contestait. En mars 2014, un juge new-yorkais avait donné raison à la major estimant que les plaignants équatoriens avaient corrompu le juge équatorien chargé de l'affaire et falsifié certaines preuves...[Lire la suite : http://www.novethic.fr/breves/details/pollution-nouvelle-victoire-de-chevron-dans-la-saga-judiciaire-qui-loppose-a-lequateur.html]

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Article
9 August 2016

2nd Circuit Shields Chevron From $9.5B Verdict

Author: Kevin Lessmiller and Adam Klasfeld, Courthouse News Service (USA)

The Second Circuit ruled...that Ecuadoreans cannot collect a $9.5 billion judgment against Chevron for rainforest damage, finding that the judgment was the result of bribery and fraud. The ruling is another setback for rainforest residents who have struggled for 23 years for compensation for what they called an "Amazon Chernobyl"...Ecuador's highest court upheld the verdict three years later, but reduced the judgment to about $9.5 billion. Chevron promised to abide by the Ecuadorean judgment to win the transfer of the case, but it later insisted that this obligation was void because of fraud. Returning to New York, Chevron accused lawyers for the Ecuadoreans — particularly, a human-rights lawyer named Steven Donziger — of attempting to "shake-down" the company for billions by pressuring them to pay an illegitimate judgment...The Second Circuit heard arguments in the case last year...[T]he New York City-based appeals court unanimously upheld Kaplan's ruling. "There is no authority suggesting that a party ignorant of its attorney's fraudulent actions may enforce a fraudulently procured judgment," Judge Amalya Kearse wrote for a three-judge panel..."The Ecuadorians' attorneys are reviewing it carefully and will be exploring all options for further appeal...[T]his ruling will not deter the Ecuadorians, their lawyers and their supporters from aggressively seeking justice in Canada and in other countries where litigation is underway to seize Chevron assets,"...

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Article
9 August 2016

Chevron Corp. v. Donziger, United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit

Author: United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit

...Appellants challenge the district court's judgment principally on grounds of Article III standing, international comity, judicial estoppel, lack of legal authority for the granting of equitable relief, and/or lack of personal jurisdiction over defendants other than Donziger and his firm. Noting, inter alia, that appellants do not challenge the sufficiency of the evidence to support the district court's factual findings, that the Ecuadorian appellate courts declined to hear and resolve the above charges of corruption and expressly preserved the parties' rights to litigate those charges in United States courts, and that the district court's judgment has imposed in personam restrictions on the appellants without disturbing the Ecuadorian judgment, we find no basis for overturning the judgment of the district court...[T]he district court's unchallenged findings of fact as to the fraud, coercion, and bribery engaged in by the LAPs' team..., we see no abuse of discretion in the equitable in personam relief granted by the district court...

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Article
9 August 2016

Chevron Ruling Blocks $8.6 Billion Order in Ecuador Fight

Author: Patricia Hurtado & Erik Larson, Bloomberg Markets (USA)

Chevron Corp. won a victory in its long-running battle over toxic waste in Ecuador after an appeals court found the American lawyer representing indigenous villagers committed fraud and barred him from enforcing an $8.6 billion award. "Even innocent clients may not benefit from the fraud of their attorney," the appeals court...said..., referring to claims that the Ecuadorians’ lawyer had faked evidence and offered bribes. The appeals court upheld a lower-court ruling. The defeat of lawyer...could influence the outcome of the storied legal dispute...Ecuadorians are seeking to seize Chevron assets because the company has refused to pay on a judgment awarded in 2011 by an Ecuadorian court. It is unlikely to be the last twist in the saga, which began in 1993 when American lawyers sued over pollution which they say affects 30,000 indigenous villagers in the oil-rich Lago Agrio region...

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Article
9 August 2016

Chevron’s Pollution Victory Opens Door for Companies to Shirk Foreign Verdicts

Author: Paul Barrett, Bloomberg Businessweek (USA)

Chevron wasn’t the only winner in Monday’s ruling...in which the court affirmed that a lawyer for victims engaged in wrongdoing to secure a $9.5 billion verdict in the South American country. [It] may benefit other corporations seeking to avoid enforcement of foreign judgments they contend are based on corrupt proceedings...Ruling said that an American corporation hit with a big-ticket judgment abroad can come home to the U.S. and use the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO) as a weapon to go after the lawyers on the other side of the aisle...Interpreting RICO as authorizing a company to seek an injunction in this manner “is consistent with Congress’s intent to encourage civil litigation to supplement government efforts to deter and penalize” illegal activity prohibited by RICO, Kearse wrote...The injunction that the federal appeals court upheld said that Donziger and his clients couldn’t enforce their tainted judgment in the U.S., and couldn’t profit from it anywhere in the world. It seems entirely likely that other corporations that find themselves in similar straits will emulate Chevron and its RICO defense...

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