Oil Giant Met With Independent Court Expert, Later Refused To Pay Him After He Found Toxins At So-Called “Remediated” Sites
Chevron has been caught in yet another big, fat lie told to a dozen or more U.S. federal judges about interactions with court-appointed technical experts in the landmark trial in Ecuador over massive oil contamination of the rainforest.
Attorneys for Chevron’s Gibson Dunn have argued in American courts that inappropriate meetings took place between court-appointed technical experts and the Ecuadorian plaintiffs, who recently won an $18 billion judgment in an Ecuadorian court, after eight years of attempted efforts by Chevron to derail the lawsuit in the South American country.
Before these U.S. judges, the Ecuadorians’ attorneys have argued that such meetings were allowed, and the Ecuadorian judge, who ruled in their favor, found no wrongdoing in regard to meetings between the plaintiffs and court experts.
Recently, the Ecuadorians submitted to a U.S. court an October 29, 2010 letter written to Ecuadorian Judge Nicholas Zambrano by Dr. Marcel Muñoz Herrería, a neutral expert appointed by the court at Chevron’s request to conduct contamination testing at four oil well sites in March 2009. In the letter, Muñoz reveals that he met with Chevron officials for a “technical planning meeting” at Hotel Coca prior to the testing.
The plaintiffs also met with court-appointed experts for technical planning meetings, but Chevron maintains these meetings are inappropriate and point to them as evidence of fraud, which the Ecuadorians deny.
Muñoz wrote Judge Zambrano requesting that he be paid for the expert reports that he produced. Chevron refused to pay him because his reports found illegal levels of toxins at oil sites that Chevron claims had been cleaned. See here and here.
Interestingly, Chevron’s self-proclaimed “dirty tricks” operative Diego Borja was last seen working for Chevron at these oil sites. Borja has admitted that Chevron tampered with evidence at the oil sites.
And, for those of you following the Borja story closely, you will remember that a legal correspondent recently reported that Chevron has paid Borja at least $364,000 since the company moved him and his family from Quito to the U.S. Exactly what these payments are for is known only to Chevron and its lawyers at Gibson Dunn and Jones Day.