DC firm shaking down Chevron learns lesson about poking the bear

posted at 10:01 am on May 18, 2013 by Jazz Shaw

There’s been a new, and some might say long overdue twist in the ongoing saga of Ecuador’s Chevron shakedown. We’ve been covering this story here since January of 2011 and it’s been a wild roller coaster ride. From the time the environmental groups involved were initially awarded a huge payday in a kangaroo court, we’ve seen blatant fraud uncovered on the part of the plaintiffs, “investors” in the lawsuit claiming they were defrauded, and the judge in the case admitting that he was bribed.

Through it all, one law firm in DC, Patton Boggs, has been nipping at Chevron’s heels on their own behalf, as well as supporting the people trying to pick Chevron’s pockets. But as CNN reports, you can only push somebody so many times before they push back.

Since late 2010, Washington, D.C. law firm Patton Boggs has been poking a sleeping tiger. It has filed three peculiar federal lawsuits — in its own name, not on behalf of any client — against Chevron, the third-largest corporation in the United States. These cases have fared poorly; two were quickly dismissed, and a federal magistrate judge recommended tossing the third in March.

On Friday, the tiger awoke. Chevron (CVX) sought a federal judge’s permission to bring counterclaims against the 455-lawyer firm for alleged fraud and deceit for its conduct in representing the Amazon Defense Front, which obtained a $19 billion environmental judgment against the oil giant in Lago Agrio, Ecuador, in February 2011. Chevron also seeks to charge the firm with “malicious prosecution” for having pursued its three lawsuits in bad faith. Chevron seeks to hold the law firm liable for any damages Chevron suffers from the Front’s allegedly fraud-infested litigation, plus punitive and treble damages.

Patton Boggs is already taking to the media beat to try to portray themselves as “the little guy” who is suffering under the energy giant’s attempts to “intimidate” them because they dared to help save the rain forests or whatever. But given their track record on this issue thus far, it seems unlikely that they’re going to fare much better this time around. Chevron has won one round after another over the last two years, demonstrating the massive conspiracy going on which attempted to extort literally billions of dollars from them.

There was a time when such nuisance suits were profitable, and big companies would often pony up some significant amount of cash for dubious claims rather than spending the time and money – not to mention the risk of negative public relations – required to defend themselves in court. But the amazingly greedy nature of this shakedown was clearly a bridge too far. And not only is the Amazon Defense Front coming up on the short end of the stick, but one of the American law firms engaging in this practice may wind up paying a hefty sum for their involvement.

The worm may just be turning.


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Are they adding cuckold Andrew Cuomo’s cheatin’ ex-wife, Kerry Kennedy as a defendant?

Wethal on May 18, 2013 at 10:03 AM

By the way, Tommy Boggs is ABC’s Cokie Roberts’ brother.

Wethal on May 18, 2013 at 10:05 AM

Patton Boggs is already taking to the media beat to try to portray themselves as “the little guy” who is suffering under the energy giant’s attempts to “intimidate” them because they dared to help save the rain forests or whatever.

Large wealthy law firm full of lawyers trying to gin up public support…brilliant!

No disrespect to the fine lawyers that post comments here, but the public probably places lawyers somewhere between snakes and cockroaches, all apologies to snakes and cockroaches.

NotCoach on May 18, 2013 at 10:07 AM

What’s Patton Boggs at the bottom of the ocean ?
A good start

J_Crater on May 18, 2013 at 10:21 AM

A great start to the weekend. :)

OldEnglish on May 18, 2013 at 10:21 AM

By the way, Tommy Boggs is ABC’s Cokie Roberts’ brother.

Wethal on May 18, 2013 at 10:05 AM

Just another example of that incestuous circle of powerbrokers in the D.C. circle. All share the same philosophy and can hardly be counted upon to be impartial when they are part of the media, especially when that media is NPR.

AZfederalist on May 18, 2013 at 10:23 AM

Shakedown…shakedown cruise…..

ted c on May 18, 2013 at 10:23 AM

What do you call a 100 lawyers on the bottom of the ocean?

A good start.

jukin3 on May 18, 2013 at 10:25 AM

Large wealthy law firm full of lawyers trying to gin up public support…brilliant!

No disrespect to the fine lawyers that post comments here, but the public probably places lawyers somewhere between snakes and cockroaches, all apologies to snakes and cockroaches.

NotCoach on May 18, 2013 at 10:07 AM

So, the American public has to choose between a large wealthy law firm, full of class action lawsuit lawyers — the same kind of lawyers on the TV commercials, and a large multinational oil company vis a vis who to support. You know, despite all the efforts of the environmentalists, media, and education industry to demonize the oil companies, I’m thinking the oil company gets more support.

/Pretty tired of those asbestos and pelvic mesh ads that the scum suckers keep beating us over the head with on TV.

AZfederalist on May 18, 2013 at 10:27 AM

The worm may just be turning.

Indeed!

workingclass artist on May 18, 2013 at 10:27 AM

By the way, Tommy Boggs is ABC’s Cokie Roberts’ brother.

Wethal on May 18, 2013 at 10:05 AM

Lots of enviro-sympathetic coverage on NPR with regards to this case…Hmmmm…

workingclass artist on May 18, 2013 at 10:29 AM

And not only is the Amazon Defense Front coming up on the short end of the stick, but one of the American law firms engaging in this practice may wind up paying a hefty sum for their involvement.

“Hefty sums” only? How about jail terms? How about some disbarments?

No disrespect to the fine lawyers that post comments here, but the public probably places lawyers somewhere between snakes and cockroaches, all apologies to snakes and cockroaches.

NotCoach on May 18, 2013 at 10:07 AM

Above or below IRS agents? Tough call there.

slickwillie2001 on May 18, 2013 at 10:30 AM

By the way, Tommy Boggs is ABC’s Cokie Roberts’ brother.

Wethal on May 18, 2013 at 10:05 AM

Just another example of that incestuous circle of powerbrokers in the D.C. circle. All share the same philosophy and can hardly be counted upon to be impartial when they are part of the media, especially when that media is NPR.

AZfederalist on May 18, 2013 at 10:23 AM

Father was Hale Boggs, LA congressman who disappeared in plane crash in Alaska. Mother held husband’s House seat for a while, and later was appointed ambassador to the Vatican by Bill Clinton.

Wethal on May 18, 2013 at 10:31 AM

Cousin of S.M.O.D is making a flyby…

http://www.latimes.com/news/science/sciencenow/la-sci-sn-asteroid-1998-qe2-20130516,0,548201.story

Maybe we get a do-over if it hits DC?
(Just kidding…kinda)

*snicker*

workingclass artist on May 18, 2013 at 10:34 AM

By the way, Tommy Boggs is ABC’s Cokie Roberts’ brother.

Wethal on May 18, 2013 at 10:05 AM

Lots of enviro-sympathetic coverage on NPR with regards to this case…Hmmmm…

workingclass artist on May 18, 2013 at 10:29 AM

Roberts’ husband is Steven Roberts, who used to work for Newsweek, and was a panelist on PBS’ “Washington Week in Review” for several years.

Wethal on May 18, 2013 at 10:37 AM

By the way, Tommy Boggs is ABC’s Cokie Roberts’ brother.

Wethal on May 18, 2013 at 10:05 AM

Lots of enviro-sympathetic coverage on NPR with regards to this case…Hmmmm…

workingclass artist on May 18, 2013 at 10:29 AM

Roberts’ husband is Steven Roberts, who used to work for Newsweek, and was a panelist on PBS’ “Washington Week in Review” for several years.

Wethal on May 18, 2013 at 10:37 AM

The Family Tree don’t fork much does it?

workingclass artist on May 18, 2013 at 10:42 AM

Chevron will fight anything to the death for the encouragement of others. I was doing environmental work in the 1990′s and we were testing a neighborhood contaminated by Gulf Oil (Chevron bought Gulf). I extracted crude oil at depths of 6-8 feet from lawns in the subdivision. Gulf was clearly at fault, but Chevron, using some very questionable tactics and 4 judges later, got the decision they wanted. The judge didn’t let it go to trial and it had to be resolved in mediation. The homeowners were screwed big time. Chevron is not the good neighbor company they try to portray in their commercials. While they may be the victims of greedy and unethical lawyers, their hands are far from clean.

DAT60A3 on May 18, 2013 at 10:46 AM

D.C. law firm Patton Boggs has been poking a sleeping tiger.

heh, I remember a certain 11 year nature nut (who shall remain nameless) that once poked a skunk under a car to get a better look at it. Were technology more advanced, a storng musk odor would get me banned.
The idea is that I learned from my stupidity–I have to wonder about liberal lawyers sometime.

Don L on May 18, 2013 at 10:48 AM

An opportunity to put down 450+ lawyers?

Where can we contribute?

Shaughnessy on May 18, 2013 at 10:50 AM

Go Chevron, go! Leave them nothing but lint in their pockets.

Charm on May 18, 2013 at 10:50 AM

I was doing environmental work in the 1990′s and we were testing a neighborhood contaminated by Gulf Oil (Chevron bought Gulf)… Chevron is not the good neighbor company they try to portray in their commercials. While they may be the victims of greedy and unethical lawyers, their hands are far from clean.

DAT60A3 on May 18, 2013 at 10:46 AM

Oh well! That cinches it then!

Vince on May 18, 2013 at 10:59 AM

The Family Tree don’t fork much does it?

workingclass artist on May 18, 2013 at 10:42 AM

Nah. They fork us every chance they get!

Old Country Boy on May 18, 2013 at 11:04 AM

Ken Derr and John Watson have chunks of guys like Tommy Boggs in their stool sample…

JohnGalt23 on May 18, 2013 at 11:05 AM

Just imagine the negative ad blitz that Chevron could drop on these people if they ever got really mad.

Count to 10 on May 18, 2013 at 11:07 AM

I am often surprised, as a Canadian, at how far the US legal practice, and practice norms, have diverged from ours, given our common roots and overall similarity. The “loser pays” rule on costs reduces spurious litigation, while concepts of maintenance, barratry and champerty, though rarely applied, are still alive. These would have been a great help in this case, from what I have read from your excellent reporting on the situation. Cheers.

Blaise on May 18, 2013 at 11:17 AM

Both Cokie and her brother are the children of Hale Boggs, Democrat congresscritter from Louisiana who died in a mysterious plane crash. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hale_Boggs

The nepotism among the media and leftwing politicians is truly breathtaking.

erp on May 18, 2013 at 11:24 AM

Once again 99% of the lawyers make the other 1% look bad.

Mason on May 18, 2013 at 11:31 AM

I swear Im going to re-live this week in my head for years to come. 3 scandals revealing the corruption of this leftist administration and now this. Having an environmentalist wacko group get caught shaking down one of those dreaded right wing groups, a big oil company then that company suing the leftist sleaze lawyers? Delicious. Good luck Chevron, I hope you ruin them!

neyney on May 18, 2013 at 11:32 AM

“one of the American law firms engaging in this practice may wind up paying a hefty sum for their involvement. ”

Let’s all cross our fingers that they get triple damages and that the judge starts proceedings to debar a few lawers.

burt on May 18, 2013 at 11:33 AM

Wethal on May 18, 2013 at 10:31 AM

Maybe you or someone like you should start a website devoted to revealing relative links in media and politics, using the template of “Discover the Networks”.

You could call the website “Discover the Relatives”

Wanderlust on May 18, 2013 at 11:39 AM

Wondering what happens if the poker decides “oh, well we’ll just see about that!” and brings in reinforcements. This could very well escalate.

MelonCollie on May 18, 2013 at 11:55 AM

By the way, Tommy Boggs is ABC’s Cokie Roberts’ brother.

Wethal on May 18, 2013 at 10:05 AM

More important, son of Congressman Hale Boggs and after he went missing flying over the wilds of Alaska, his successor, his wife, and Tommy’s mother, Lindy Boggs. Originally from New Orleans.

Kermit on May 18, 2013 at 11:55 AM

It’s law firms like Patton Boggs that give the two percent of decent lawyers a bad name . . .

BigAlSouth on May 18, 2013 at 12:04 PM

If Chevron was really vindictive, they would have cancelled any credit card issued by the company to a member of Patton Boggs, and put software in-place that blocked the use of third-party cards at its stations by those same members of PB, or their family members.

That’s the Chicago Way!

Another Drew on May 18, 2013 at 12:05 PM

Why are they TARGETING Chevron?

Barry’s step-father in Indonesia was a big oil executive with Chevron. He hates big oil, er, I mean hated his step-father.

Imagine that.

Stefan

stefanslaw on May 18, 2013 at 12:21 PM

I was doing environmental work in the 1990′s and we were testing a neighborhood contaminated by Gulf Oil (Chevron bought Gulf)… Chevron is not the good neighbor company they try to portray in their commercials. While they may be the victims of greedy and unethical lawyers, their hands are far from clean.

DAT60A3 on May 18, 2013 at 10:46 AM

That may well be the case. If so, take Chevron to court for the stuff they do that you can prove. Don’t make stuff up, engage in fraud, and suborn perjury in order to shake them down just because you hate big energy corporations.

Athanasius on May 18, 2013 at 12:38 PM

It’s law firms like Patton Boggs that give the two percent of decent lawyers a bad name . . .

BigAlSouth on May 18, 2013 at 12:04 PM

John Bhopal Coale

workingclass artist on May 18, 2013 at 12:40 PM

By the way, big Republican legal guru and Romney legal advisor Ben Ginsberg is a partner at Patton Boggs

Outlander on May 18, 2013 at 12:43 PM

Shakespeare had it right. :) :) :)

Theophile on May 18, 2013 at 1:09 PM

By the way, Tommy Boggs is ABC’s Cokie Roberts’ brother.

Wethal on May 18, 2013 at 10:05 AM

Lots of enviro-sympathetic coverage on NPR with regards to this case…Hmmmm…

workingclass artist on May 18, 2013 at 10:29 AM

Roberts’ husband is Steven Roberts, who used to work for Newsweek, and was a panelist on PBS’ “Washington Week in Review” for several years.

Wethal on May 18, 2013 at 10:37 AM

And Tommy’s wife, Barbara, is at the tippy-top of the social heap in DC most certainly through her legendary events business/// Certainly it helped to partner with William Proxmire’s wife.

egmont on May 18, 2013 at 1:13 PM

Wethal on May 18, 2013 at 10:31 AM

Maybe you or someone like you should start a website devoted to revealing relative links in media and politics, using the template of “Discover the Networks”.

You could call the website “Discover the Relatives”…

Wanderlust on May 18, 2013 at 11:39 AM

That is an xcellent idea…

workingclass artist on May 18, 2013 at 1:13 PM

While they may be the victims of greedy and unethical lawyers, their hands are far from clean.

DAT60A3 on May 18, 2013 at 10:46 AM

You are being very redundant there.

Theophile on May 18, 2013 at 1:14 PM

This law firm is about as honest as the IRS.

pat on May 18, 2013 at 1:15 PM

Good for Chevron!! They will own a bunch of new lawyers and their crooked firm, soon.

ultracon on May 18, 2013 at 1:21 PM

Chevron is not the good neighbor company they try to portray in their commercials. While they may be the victims of greedy and unethical lawyers, their hands are far from clean.

DAT60A3 on May 18, 2013 at 10:46 AM

I was a jobber for another major and I can attest Chevron was far more responsible when it came time to do cleanup’s on old bulk plants. They simply cleaned up their plant before selling it to a jobber. I call BS.

CW20 on May 18, 2013 at 1:54 PM

Bankrupt those scumbags.

Jaibones on May 18, 2013 at 2:24 PM

Chevron is not the good neighbor company they try to portray in their commercials. While they may be the victims of greedy and unethical lawyers, their hands are far from clean.

DAT60A3 on May 18, 2013 at 10:46 AM

Wheres the “any and several” strategy employed by attorneys in the interest of class action lawsuits that many attorneys successfully pursued in the 90s while being supported by the USEPA and state DEQ’s was an effort as pure as the wind driven snow.

It was all about fees, people hopping back and forth between consulting and state office positions, and damn little about the environment.

Don’t think that industries such as petroleum, mining, and manufacturing were not paying attention to the merry go round driven by money. They learned a lot.

Difficultas_Est_Imperium on May 18, 2013 at 3:29 PM

in the words of Prof Reynolds, punch them back twice as hard

thurman on May 18, 2013 at 4:18 PM

Chevron will fight anything to the death for the encouragement of others. I was doing environmental work in the 1990′s and we were testing a neighborhood contaminated by Gulf Oil (Chevron bought Gulf). I extracted crude oil at depths of 6-8 feet from lawns in the subdivision. Gulf was clearly at fault, but Chevron, using some very questionable tactics and 4 judges later, got the decision they wanted. The judge didn’t let it go to trial and it had to be resolved in mediation. The homeowners were screwed big time. Chevron is not the good neighbor company they try to portray in their commercials. While they may be the victims of greedy and unethical lawyers, their hands are far from clean.

DAT60A3 on May 18, 2013 at 10:46 AM

Kennedy Heights?

Wendya on May 18, 2013 at 4:39 PM

It’s law firms like Patton Boggs that give the two percent of decent lawyers a bad name . . .

THIS!

And back in the day when the law firm had three names-Patton, Boggs & Blow-competitors used to call them “Patton Shoes and Blowhards.” Nothing’s changed.

EdmundBurke247 on May 18, 2013 at 4:41 PM

ABOUT TIME THIS HAPPENED!!!

By exposing and punishing this fraud and legal extortion, Chevron is doing the country a GREAT PUBLIC SERVICE!!!

landlines on May 18, 2013 at 5:22 PM

Crush them, Chevron.

Ward Cleaver on May 18, 2013 at 6:50 PM

I thought Chevron was Venezuelan ?

birdhurd on May 19, 2013 at 3:41 AM

All I can say is UFB.

mmcnamer1 on May 19, 2013 at 11:12 AM