US Chevron countersuing law firm in Ecuador pollution case

13 May 2013 18:41  [Source: ICIS news]

HOUSTON (ICIS)--Chevron has filed a counter lawsuit against a Washington, DC-based law firm that the US oil giant says helped perpetrate “a US public pressure campaign related to corrupt litigation in Ecuador”, according to court documents made available on Monday.

Chevron brought the counterclaim against Patton Boggs in the US District Court, Southern District, in New York state.

Patton Boggs entered the pollution case just before a February 2011 verdict by an Ecuadorian judge that said Chevron must pay $18.2bn (€14bn) - since raised to $19bn  - to pay for pollution damage in the Amazon.

The damage occurred when Texaco – which Chevron acquired in 2001 – produced oil there from the mid-1960s to 1990.

Chevron is challenging the verdict.

Patton Boggs came in to help lead plaintiffs attorney Steven Donzinger try to enforce the Ecuadorian verdict in other countries such as Canada and Brazil.

In its counterclaim, Chevron says Patton Boggs has continued to campaign for the litigation and obstructed justice to prevent “discovery of its role in the fraud”.

In response to Chevron’s countersuit, Patton Boggs has said it has acted ethically and in good faith in the case and has labelled the suit and other actions by the oil giant as scare tactics.

The Chevron-Ecuador case has played host to a series of legal jostling in recent months.

Earlier this month, a US judge said that Chevron CEO John Watson must testify in connection to the litigation, while an Ontario judge dismissed a lawsuit filed by Ecuadorian plaintiffs to have the $19bn judgement enforced in Canada. The plaintiffs have said they will appeal.

In April, UK litigation financier Burford Capital renounced interest in funding ongoing legal action involving Ecuador and the judgement, saying it had been defrauded into joining the fray on the plaintiffs’ side.

Also in April, experts working for a US-based consultancy company, whose work helped bring about the verdict against Chevron, filed testimonies disavowing their previous findings that formed the basis of the judgement. Meanwhile, the Ecuadorian judge who issued the verdict rejected claims made by another judge that he accepted thousands of dollars to orchestrate a false judgement against the US-based energy company.

In February, an international tribunal at The Hague ruled that Ecuador had breached the body’s prior rulings by not preventing the attempted enforcement of the judgement.

Additional reporting by Al Greenwood and Simon West

($1 = €0.77)

By: Jeremy Pafford
+1 713 525 2653

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