How sweet it is to see this crazed liberal plot to bilk Chevron, with the cahoots and participation of Ecuador’s executive and judicial branches, continue to come apart at its seamy seams.
This caper (which I have written about before) goes like this: Take a scheming trial lawyer (Steven Donziger), a hell-bent leftist group (Amazon Defense Front), bucks from a venture capitalist (Burford Capital), political juice from a huge D.C. lobbying firm (Patton Boggs), a concocted story about poorly remediated long-ago oil drilling by a rich-company target, a handful of poor “indigenous” people with bogus medical claims, set the entire shebang in a country hostile to U.S. corporations and open to complicity in a corporate shakedown, complete with buyable judges and court-appointed “experts,” and you’ve got what has been happening the past 20 years to Chevron.
They’re not exactly a sympathetic defendant. Who would feel sorry for the oil giant? What would stand in the way of its fleecing?
Turns out, the truth.
The latest wheel to fall off the plaintiff’s bus concerns the Ecuadoran judge, Nicolas Lozada, who once granted a $19 billion judgment against Chevron. Seems like his decision may have had a pricetag on it. And that it was written by the plaintiffs. Forbes has a major report here. A taste of it:
Based on evidence Chevron has introduced in a civil Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO) case in federal court in Manhattan, U.S. District Judge Lewis Kaplan held in March that there was probable cause to believe that the judgment, which the Amazon Defense Front is currently trying to enforce against the oil giant in the courts of Canada, Argentina, and Brazil, was in fact secretly written by the Front’s own lawyers, who were allegedly given that opportunity by the then presiding Ecuadorian judge, Nicolás Zambrano Lozada, in exchange for a promise of $500,000 from the recovery.
Last month, lawyers for the Front filed in Manhattan federal court a six-page written declaration signed by Zambrano asserting that he had, in fact, written the ruling himself and denying acceptance of any proffered bribes. But Zambrano’s failure to defend his assertions in person and under cross-examination yesterday make it likely that his declaration will be stricken from the record and accorded no evidentiary weight. (Judge Kaplan ordered that depositions of Ecuadorian witnesses in the Manhattan RICO case be held in Lima, Peru, rather than Ecuador, in the face of evidence that Chevron lawyers would face reprisals and possible criminal prosecution if they set foot in Ecuador.)
Meanwhile, a Canadian judge has told Amazon Defense Front to pound sand in its multi-national attempt to claim Chevron assets. It comes as another big legal blow to the lefties (in the U.S., eight federal courts have found the Ecuador trial tainted by fraud), as Fortune reports.
And then there are these other setbacks and events:
- Chevron has filed fraud and deceit counterclaims against Patton Boggs, based upon mounting evidence of misconduct by the Washington lobbyist monolith
- Stratus Consulting, the lead environmental consultants to the Ecuadorian plaintiffs’ lawyers, provided sworn declarations (here and here), highlighting the lack of scientific merit to the plaintiffs’ damage claims.
- Litigation hedge fund Burford Capital has provided a sworn declaration outlining the firm’s knowledge of the plaintiffs’ lawyers’ misconduct, testifying that the proceeding is irredeemably tainted by fraud. David Russell, the original scientific expert used by the plaintiffs to club Chevron, has just filed a powerful and damaging affidavit in U.S. court charging monkey business, baldly stating “I have personal knowledge that [Donzinger] and the plaintiffs’ representatives have tainted the legal process in Ecuador and are lying about the environmental conditions there.”
So the plaintiffs and their henchmen are at each others’ throats. Beautiful. And richly deserved.