Chevron, having shown in court that a rogue’s gallery of environmental activists, lawyers, and political hacks engaged in a criminal conspiracy to shake it down for billions of dollars, is now on the counterattack, going after the prestigious (and, today, struggling) Washington law and lobbying firm Patton Boggs. From the Hill:
Chevron alleged that lawyers at Patton Boggs helped cover up fraudulent evidence in a lawsuit in Ecuador and filed a motion in May seeking the go-ahead to sue the firm for its work representing Ecuadorians affected by oil drilling in the country.
U.S. District Judge Lewis Kaplan on Monday dismissed Patton’s claim that Chevron “delayed unreasonably” in bringing the charges and said the firm’s other arguments against the complaint were “without merit.”
Chevron is seeking rewards for “compensatory damages” and “punitive damages” for an “amount to be proven in trial,” plus attorney fees, according to court documents.
As Judge Kaplan put it in his earlier ruling: “This case is extraordinary. The facts are many and sometimes complex. They include things that normally come only out of Hollywood — coded emails among [lead plantiffs' attorney Steven] Donziger and his colleagues describing their private interactions with and machinations directed at judges and a court appointed expert, their payments to a supposedly neutral expert out of a secret account, a lawyer who invited a film crew to innumerable private strategy meetings and even to ex parte meetings with judges, an Ecuadorian judge who claims to have written the multibillion dollar decision but who was so inexperienced and uncomfortable with civil cases that he had someone else (a former judge who had been removed from the bench) draft some civil decisions for him, an 18-year old typist who supposedly did Internet research in American, English, and French law for the same judge, who knew only Spanish, and much more.”
I suppose it is chauvinistic of me to say, but the corruption of institutions in Ecuador does not surprise me that much — while the corruption on the U.S. end of the case is truly shocking. If this ends in anything less than prison time for the worst of the malefactors, justice will not have been served.