Posts Tagged ‘ecuador’
May 14th, 2013 at 5:48 pm
Chevron Keeps Fighting Back

My column last week included yet another update on the long-running dispute between the oil giant Chevron and a group of apparently underhanded plaintiffs’ lawyers with regard to a rather obviously bogus lawsuit involving alleged Ecuadoran environmental damage.

Just a little update: Now Chevron isn’t just fighting back against the main plaintiffs’ lawyers and against corrupt judges in Ecuador, but also against the major DC law/lobby firm Patton-Boggs. This is serious stuff. Not to pre-judge the outcome of this counter-suit, but the very act of suing Patton-Boggs directly is a major and, I think, unusual step. Usually it’s not the firms themselves that get sued. Then again, rarely has a company been so abused as Chevron has been by the long-running lawsuit, so it should be no surprise that Chevron is looking absolutely everywhere it can to be “made whole.”

On the underlying case (not the specific claims against P-B), Chevron of course continues to prove its points, again and again and again. Chevron clearly has been wronged, and everybody, including Patton-Boggs, should acknowledge as much.

May 14th, 2012 at 11:57 am
Chevron Case Against Ecuador Gets Boost

REALLY important stuff here, about which I have written numerous times, including at this site, regarding the utterly fraudullent gazillion dollar case that corrupt Ecuadoran officials (and apparent corrupt Americans as well) are waging against the U.S.-based Chevron Corp. Of course, Barack Obama is on the wrong side, favoring foreign interests over American ones, as usual.

May 13th, 2011 at 1:15 am
Chevron/Ecuador Judge Smacks Down Lawyers

Yesterday I blogged about new developments in the Ecuadorian environmental case against California-based Chevron Corp., and said I would have a second part of the blog ready today. Well, here it is.

Earlier this week, U.S. District Judge Lewis Kaplan, who has been giving fits to the plaintiffs’ lawyers who have so, uh, creatively pursued this case for years, refused plaintiffs’ demands that he recuse himself. What was particularly devastating in his answer was the fact that the Second Circuit Court of Appeals had praised to high heaven his handling of the case:

“[I]n light of the complexity of this case and the urgency of its adjudication, we wish to note the exemplary manner in which the able District Judge has discharged his duties,” the appellate court stated. “There is no question but that all concerned, not least this Court, are well served by the careful and comprehensive analysis which is evident repeatedly throughout the many memoranda and orders of the District Court, many of which were produced with rapidity in the context of the District Court’s daunting schedule in this and other important cases.”

That’s about as effusive an endorsement from a higher court as I’ve ever seen. It’s also, effectively, a total smack-down (in advance) of the plaintiffs’ recusal motion.


Kaplan also denied ever having “urged” Chevron to file racketeering suit.
     The Ecuadoreans contend that Kaplan made the suggestion by asking during a hearing: “Now, do the phrases Hobbs Act, extortion, RICO, have any bearing?”
     But Kaplan said he posed the question after Chevron made its accusations known.
     “Chevron had laid out its RICO, Hobbs Act and extortion claims well before the motion to quash was argued and well before the Court even posed its question,” Kaplan wrote. “In short, the chronology is flatly inconsistent with the LAP Representatives’ contention.”

What has gone unsaid in all this is the irony (or hypocrisy) in the plaintiffs’ whining about supposed “bias” against them in U.S. courts, where the alleged bias involved no allegations of financial wrongdoing by the judge and no other conflict of interest — in other words, no real ethical conflict, but merely a glorified difference of opinion — while the plaintiffs’ lawyers have utterly belittled and denounced the importance of manifold evidence of actual ethical conflicts in the Ecuadorean courts that have been raking Chevron over the coals.

(Sorry for such a long sentence.)

When one key judge was videotaped participating in what looked to all the world like a bribery scheme in favor of the plaintiffs, “The Washington D.C.-based Amazon Defense Coalition, which supports the plaintiffs, said in a statement on Tuesday that the video showed Nunez had resisted the attempts to bribe him.” Well, not exactly. Even the judicial system of Ecuador, panned internationally as being corrupt or unreliable, was forced to remove Judge Nunez from the case. Yes, internationally.  As in:

On Feb. 2, a German newspaper featured a lengthy report headlined “Ecuador emerges as hub for international crime.” This follows actions in recent years in which the U.S. State Department, the United Nations, the International Bar Association and six major American business organizations all have denounced Ecuador’s court system as unreliable or corrupt.on Feb. 2, a German newspaper featured a lengthy report headli major American business organizations all have denounced Ecuador’s court system as unreliable or corrupt.”

So we have an American judge with no direct conflict of interest and a record praised by the courts above him being blasted by the same outfits who are perfectly happy with a corrupt Ecuadorean system that they themselves have said is all about graft. Chevron has noted:

On film, Donziger declared, “the only language that I believe, this judge is gonna understand is one of pressure, intimidation and humiliation.  And that’s what we’re doin’ today.  We’re gonna let him know what time it is . . . .  We’re going to scare the judge, I think today.”  These tactics were employed because, according to Donziger, judges in Ecuador “make decisions based on who they fear the most, not based on what laws should dictate.”  When it was suggested to Donziger that no judge would rule against them because “[h]e’ll be killed,” Donziger replied that, though the judge might not actually be killed, “he thinks he will be…  Which is just as good.”

This is not, repeat not, just a question of one company fighting off a lawsuit. This is a question of American companies being badly abused by a foreign court system, at the urging of American lawyers about whom several judges have raised the specter that they have acted fraudulently. This should be a matter where the U.S. government, through the White House and State Department, should weigh in diplomatically to protect American interests. That they have not done so should be a mark of shame for the Obama administration.

May 12th, 2011 at 12:30 pm
Declining Stratus for Eco-Suits?

For several years, California-based Chevron Corporation has been fighting against what has long appeared to be a rather bogus lawsuit on behalf of Ecuadorian plaintiffs (and the Ecuadorian government, driven by American trial lawyers, in the course of which the specter of potential fraud on the part of those attorneys has been brought up repeatedly by judges and others).

Now come two new-ish developments in the case, which has become an important test of whether American courts and/or the Obama administration will stand up for an American company under apparently groundless assault abroad.  I’ll blog here about the second of these developments tomorrow, but for now, the first one merits watching. About two weeks ago, The NY Times’ “Greenwire” featured this story about a problematic tie-in between the alleged skulduggery against Chevron and a company that is a major U.S. federal contractor on other eco-projects, including last year’s BP oil spill:

Boulder, Colo.-based Stratus Consulting, a long-term contractor with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and other federal agencies, is gathering and analyzing data concerning the Gulf of Mexico spill.

Stratus was named in February as a defendant in the federal racketeering suit filed by Chevron against Ecuadorean plaintiffs and their legal team who are seeking damages for environmental contamination relating to Texaco Petroleum Corp.’s operations there…. Chevron’s allegations concerning Stratus’ involvement in the conspiracy to extort the company center on the actions of an independent expert, Richard Cabrera, who was hired by the Ecuadorean court to conduct a study of the alleged environmental damage.

Chevron noted this:

Stratus’ own insurance company, Navigators Specialty Insurance Company, submitted a filing with a federal court in Colorado to argue that it had no duty to defend Stratus against allegations of fraud.  According to an article in, “Navigators Specialty is now seeking to avoid covering Chevron’s suit on the grounds that the consultant knew when the professional liability policy began in October of an alleged act, mistake or omission that could have reasonably led to a lawsuit. A policy provision excluding coverage for intentional acts also bars indemnification and defense, as does an exclusion for undisclosed circumstances, according to the declaratory relief suit.”

Stratus, of course, denies culpability for any wrongdoing, and this blog post is intended to reach no ultimate judgment on that issue. The point here is to note that if Stratus is found culpable for major misdeeds, it darn well ought to affect its ability to garner federal contracts — a major source of revenue for the company, as this list of what (by my quick arithmetic) looks like nearly $40 million of work indicates.

It also is quite interesting how large a proportion of those contracts (by my VERY quick count, well over half) have come after Barack Obama took office. Stratus’ principles seem to be Democratic/Obama donors. Granted, the amounts aren’t very high, and further granted (indeed, I insist) that political donations are not in any way inherently corrupt or corrupting. But they can give evidence of political connections, of course, and when they coincide with federal contracts they should always be examined so the public itself can decide whether anything looks amiss. That said, for the record, Stratus principles have donated the following amounts in recent years: Douglas Beltman, $1,000 to Obama for America. David Chapman, $250 to the Democratic National Committee Services Corporation and $300 to Obama for America. And Robert Rowe, $250 to Obama for America. As Jerry Seinfeld would say, “not that there’s anything wrong with that.”  But it does show what looks like an apparent liberal bent by Stratus, and at the margins it puts a spotlight on the Obama administration’s failure to lift a finger in support of Chevron’s seemingly just cause.

For more on this, read the excellent round-up by Carter Wood at Shop Floor.  And, to give major credit where due, Bob McCarty beat everybody on this story by a mile.

Again, more on this tomorrow as well.