Long time readers will know that I’ve been covering the ongoing dispute between Chevron and Ecuador for a couple of years now. The effortt by a coalition of blatantly corrupt activist in Ecuador and their willing environmentalist cohorts in the United States was attempting to pick Chevron’s pockets to the tune of billions of dollars. But unlike many nuisance suits against energy companies, Chevron decided to fight back and took them to court after multiple instances of corruption in the Ecuador courts were brought to light.
This week, that long leg of the journey has ended, and Federal Judge Lewis Kaplan has ruled that the Ecuador judgement goes out with the trash.
A New York judge says Amazon rainforest residents who obtained a multibillion-dollar judgment against Chevron in Ecuador cannot try to enforce it through U.S. courts, because it was obtained through fraud.
Federal Judge Lewis Kaplan issued the nearly 500-page written ruling Tuesday. It follows a trial last year that pitted rainforest tribes against the San Ramon, Calif.-based oil company.
In February 2011, a judge in Ecuador issued an $18 billion judgment against Chevron Corp. in a lawsuit brought on behalf of 30,000 Amazon residents. The judgment was for environmental damage caused by Texaco during its operation of an oil consortium in the rainforest from 1972 to 1990.
A few select nuggets from the judge’s ruling.
“The decision in the Lago Agrio case was obtained by corrupt means. The defendants here may not be allowed to benefit from that in any way.”
“The wrongful actions of Donziger and his Ecuadorian legal team would be offensive to the laws of any nation that aspires to the rule of law, including Ecuador – and they knew it”
“If ever there were a case warranting equitable relief with respect to a judgment procured by fraud, this is it.”
Exit question for you legal beagle types. Is there any way at this point for Chevron to turn this around drag Donziger and company, along with the Ecuador court actors, into a court someplace and drain every last cent out of them until they have to live under a bridge somewhere?
Naw…. probably not. This is America, after all.