Chevron wins another round against Ecuador's attempt to collect on 'fraudulent' judgment
Chevron Corp. won a victory in its long-running battle against Ecuadoreans and the zealous American lawyer who represented them, as an appeals court barred the attorney from enforcing in the U.S. an $8.6 billion award because he won it through deceit.I question whether Ecuador could be considered an "innocent client" since the Ecuadoran judge appears to be part of the scheme if he was letting the plaintiff's counsel "ghost write court documents." Chevron has been able to prove this alleged misdeeds. The further attempts to collect on a judgment procured by fraud could result in sanctions against Ecuador and its attorneys.
“Even innocent clients may not benefit from the fraud of their attorney,” the appeals court said Monday.
The defeat of lawyer Steven Donziger on appeal could influence the outcome of the storied legal dispute, which was documented in the 2009 film “Crude” and continues to play out in courts around the world. Ecuadoreans are seeking to seize Chevron assets because the company has refused to pay on a judgment awarded in 2011 by an Ecuadorean 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.
Chevron, which bought Texaco in 2001, hasn’t argued against the actual pollution of the rain forest. It maintains the judgment against it was achieved by a racketeering scheme and a “string of criminal acts” by Donziger and other attorneys he worked with in Ecuador. Besides, it already paid $40 million to clean up its share of the drilling contamination, the San Ramon, California-based company said.
After a 2013 trial, U.S. District Judge Lewis Kaplan sided with Chevron, finding the lawyer and his colleagues had used fabricated evidence, promised bribes and ghost wrote court documents. The ruling barred Donziger and his associates from collecting on the judgment because “the decision in the Lago Agrio case was obtained by corrupt means.”