Just a brief update in our years long coverage of the Chevron Shakedown, and one which should be the last act in this sordid play, at least here in the United States. You may recall that about one month ago, the plaintiffs in the case, led by Manhattan Attorney Steven Donziger and his group of “environmentalist” allies, filed an appeal from the last in a long series of judgements which had gone against them. Having unsuccessfully tried to pick Chevron’s pockets to the tune of billions of dollars in a corrupt trial in Ecuador, Donziger had been found to have engaged in racketeering and massive corruption. He had hoped to take a last ditch chance and ask the Supreme Court to hear his appeal. This week that last chance fell through as the Supremes passed on the invitation, allowing the lower court’s judgement to stand. (Bloomberg)
The U.S. Supreme Court left intact a ruling that protects Chevron Corp. from having to pay $8.6 billion in a decades-long battle over oil pollution in Ecuador, rebuffing an American lawyer who was found to have committed fraud in the Central American country’s court.
The attorney, Steven Donziger, said a federal appeals court had exceeded its authority by letting Chevron use a U.S. racketeering law to block enforcement of the Ecuadorian award. The appeals court said Donziger and his team of lawyers engaged in “a parade of corrupt actions,” culminating with a promise to pay a judge $500,000 to release a ghostwritten opinion as his own.
The rejection leaves Donziger and Ecuadorian plaintiffs in the case with fewer options for collecting the award, which the company has refused to pay. Chevron doesn’t have any assets in Ecuador.
Chevron put out only a brief statement, summing up how they viewed the termination of this years long battle. (BusinessWire)
“The facts of the Ecuadorian judicial extortion scheme and the illegality of the plaintiffs’ lawyer misconduct have been finally and conclusively affirmed by the legal system of the United States,” said R. Hewitt Pate, Chevron vice president and general counsel. “Today’s decision is an important step toward bringing this illegal scheme to a final conclusion.”
Even now I find it hard to believe how long this has been going on. Other groups had, in years past, brought similar claims against other energy industry corporations and all too often those tactics worked. Not because the companies were neccessarily at fault, but because it was simply cheaper (or at least faster) to settle out of court and send the allegedly aggrieved parties on their way. This may be the first time that a company took such a stand, at least against such a massive and obviously fraudulent settlement and fought it through each and every step of the legal process. Donziger gets nothing, at least in the United States, and he’s now on record as being the author of a racketeering scheme.
Sadly, this may not be the last we hear of it, however. The plaintiffs are still looking for a way to pry open Chevron’s bank account and will continue their attempts to do so in Canada and potentially other countries as well. Stay tuned. I have the feeling that having received this level of vindication, Chevron won’t be giving an inch there, either.