Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Chevron General Counsel Distorts Arbitration Ruling to Hide $19 Billion Ecuador Liability

Reporters Get Sucked In By Chevron’s Spin

R. Hewitt Pate, Chevron’s General Counsel, faces a series of cascading problems relating to the company’s $19 billion Ecuador liability.   That might explain his irrational exuberance last week over an inconsequential ruling in favor of Chevron issued by a private investor arbitration panel that bizarrely purports to exercise authority over Ecuador’s entire public judicial system.

It is indisputable that Pate made misleading comments in a press release about the panel’s decision when he said it means “the game is up” and the ongoing 10-year-old litigation in Ecuador has essentially ended.  Reporters such as Fortune’s Roger Parloff and Businessweek’s Paul Barrett (and many others) got duped when they regurgitated Pate’s press release in their stories without investigating what the decision actually means.

That Pate would even call the Ecuador litigation a “game” is a telling indication of how Chevron’s top brass view the illnesses and deaths of innocent people and the destruction of the pristine Amazon environment by his company’s dumping, as reported by 60 Minutes and countless other independent journalists like William Langewiesche at Vanity Fair and the acclaimed Argentine journalist Jorge Lanata. 

As background, the very existence of this three-person panel of private lawyers – who by rule exclude from their proceeding the Ecuadorian villagers who won the lawsuit – is hugely controversial.  Many prominent organizations, among them the Andean Commission of Jurists, question whether the panel has any legitimacy whatsoever given its conflicts of interest and lack of due process.  We will get to that shortly.  What is most interesting is how even this pro-investor panel gave Chevron virtually nothing in its recent ruling.

Chevron's ultimate goal is to have the arbitration panel find the government of Ecuador liable for Chevron's pollution in Ecuador, and then shift the massive cost of clean-up from the company's own shareholders to Ecuador's taxpayers.  Chevron's scheme is to orchestrate a public bailout of its recklessness to be financed by its impoverished victims.  That's the kind of bailout that would make AIG blush.

Hold your nose and bear with us, because this gets a bit legalistic.

The arbitration panel decided that a 1995 release granted by Ecuador’s government to Chevron’s predecessor company Texaco now absolves Chevron from any liability for “collective” environmental clean-up brought by individuals under a later 1999 law in Ecuador called the Environmental Management Act (EMA).   Putting aside the arrogance of three foreigners who believe they can rule in private on Ecuadorian law issues already ruled on by Ecuador’s public courts, the problem for Chevron and Pate is that the Ecuadorians did not use the EMA to obtain their judgment. 

They actually sued Chevron under provisions of Ecuador’s civil code dating back to 1861 (Articles 2214 and 2229) that the panel expressly said (in paragraph 110) that it was not commenting on.  Those provisions allow people with individual harm to sue on behalf of the community and they were not (and could not be under Ecuador’s Constitution) extinguished by any release signed by Ecuador’s government. 

The ruling of the arbitration panel can be read here.

The arbitration panel emphasized in its ruling that it was making a limited decision and that it was not deciding “the full effect” of the 1995 release agreement as it relates to the rights of the Lago Agrio plaintiffs to bring their case. Thus, Pate’s sweeping comment in Chevron’s press release (“the game is up”) is clearly inaccurate.  What’s doubly crazy is that Ecuador’s trial and appellate courts already ruled against Chevron when the company tried to claim the 1995 release barred the lawsuit.  Thus, by even addressing the issue the private panel was purporting to rule on a decision already made in a public court where the real parties in interest (the villagers and Chevron) actually participated.

We know it's crazy, but it gets worse.

Chevron had the original environmental lawsuit  – filed in 1993 in U.S. federal court against Texaco -- removed to Ecuador in 2001 on the theory that the country’s courts were a better forum.  At the time, Chevron lauded Ecuador’s courts as transparent and fair.  But once in Ecuador and out of the view of U.S. courts, Chevron manufactured a theory that the 1995 “release” (given after a clearly fraudulent remediation) somehow could be interpreted to bar all of the claims of the villagers that the company promised U.S. courts it would litigate in Ecuador.   This is an example of Chevron's subterfuge at its best.

No public court in the world ever has recognized as valid Chevron’s “theory” that the 1995 release bars the lawsuit.   Chevron never even argued the point when it was pleading with U.S. courts in the late 1990s to send the case to Ecuador.  One U.S. federal district judge in New York (Leonard B. Sand) was on the verge in 2007 of ruling against Chevron on the issue until the oil giant withdrew its petition at the last minute.  

That said, no matter what the arbitration panel decides (even if it gets it right) it won't much matter.  Its rulings not only will be ignored by Ecuador's government on the grounds they violate Ecuador's Constitution and international treaty obligations, but courts the world over in charge of enforcing the judgment will scoff at Chevron's transparent attempt to impose its brand of private justice on the world.  

No self-respecting country, least of all the United States, would ever let a private panel of arbitrators tell their independent courts how to enforce their own laws.   The idea is preposterous and not even Pate can possibly believe it.
There are other reasons why observers believe the arbitration panel as convened in this particular case lacks legitimacy and violates international law.  (See this background document for more detail.) 

The panel was convened by Chevron under the U.S.-Ecuador Bilateral Investment Treaty to settle supposed “disputes” between investors like Chevron and host country governments.  The matters over which it can properly assert jurisdiction pertain to disputes between foreign investors and governments, not private parties in a civil litigation as is the case here.
Ecuador did not even enter into the investor treaty with the United States until 1997, five years after Chevron had left the country with its billions of gallons of toxic waste still on the ground.  Yet the panelists get to determine their own jurisdiction.  To earn their exorbitant fees (they charge close to $1,000 per hour), the panelists stretched jurisdiction beyond the breaking point by concluding with scant basis that the ongoing Ecuador lawsuit qualifies as an “investment” under international law. 

The panel is accountable to nobody.  Not only are the Ecuadorian villagers and their lawyers prohibited from appearing, but briefs are filed in secret.  Hearings are in secret.  Decisions generally are kept secret.  There is no right of appeal.  Despite these fatal shortcomings, the panelists claim the outrageous power to override decisions of any public court system of a sovereign nation.   

Further undermining the credibility of the panel in Chevron’s case is that one member, the Argentine Horacio Grigera Noan, has an ongoing business relationship with Chevron’s lead lawyer, Doak Bishop of the American firm King & Spalding.  Grigera Noan has reaped enormous fees after being appointed by Bishop to various investor panels on behalf of Bishop’s corporate clients.  Grigera Noan invariably rules for Bishop’s clients, which almost always leads to more appointments and more fees for Noan.   (We note Grigera Noan moonlights as a professor at the Washington College of Law at American University, known ironically as a bastion of human rights advocacy.)

We are not the only people perturbed by this corrupt state of affairs.  The Andean Commission of Jurists and various international law experts have joined a growing chorus of critics targeting Chevron’s use of the arbitration panel to evade the Ecuador judgment.  See here, here, and here.  See this academic article exposing even more details of the “club” of 40 or so lawyers worldwide (none of them women) who have a monopoly on the lucrative private corporate arbitration market.

Journalists like Barrett of BusinessWeek and Fortune’s Parloff passed off their reliance on Pate’s press release as independent reporting.  Barrett wrote that the panel ruled the Ecuador case lacked a proper “legal foundation”.   Barrett needs to correct his story to explain Pate’s misleading comments.   He might also explain why respected observers believe the arbitration panel lacks any credibility no matter how it rules.

Parloff made the same mistake as Barrett.  We predict that Manhattan will be under water from global warming before Fortune prints a correction. (The pro-Chevron Parloff repeatedly has refused to print a letter to the editor critiquing one of his earlier “analyses” of the litigation, which as usual left out some critical context.  See here for the censored letter and here for a general critique of Parloff’s record of bias in his coverage of the case.)

Pate probably got a quick high out of his one-day fake press fix.   He needs it.  Not only is Pate busy navigating Chevron CEO John Watson’s conflict of interest and sworn deposition testimony related to the Ecuador case, he is also trying to beat back a shareholder revolt, fend off requests for an SEC investigation, and explain how his own lawyer Andres Rivero was caught handing a suitcase full of cash to one Ecuadorian judge while floating a $1 million bribe offer to another. 

Pate is also dealing with enforcement lawsuits in foreign courts while trying to run away from Chevron’s billion-dollar RICO case against the Ecuadorians and their counsel.  With a trial date nearing, Chevron is now prepared to drop all damages claims just to avoid a jury. 

For these and many other reasons, the “game” obviously is not up as Pate claims.  For Chevron, the truth always has a way of catching up to the lies and spin of its management team.

Friday, September 20, 2013

Chevron Imports The Great Ted Olson to Save Its RICO Case

Signs of More Serious Trouble For Oil Giant As It Tries to Evade Ecuador Judgment

There is now more evidence Chevron is running scared about its retaliatory New York RICO case filed against Ecuadorian villagers and one of their lawyers, New York attorney Steven R. Donziger.   The great Republican lawyer Theodore Olson – who argued the winning side in the famous Supreme Court case that landed George W. Bush the presidency – is joining the company’s legal team just days before a critical argument before a New York appellate court.

After an eight-year trial held in Ecuador at Chevron’s request, the Ecuadorian communities in 2011 won a judgment against the oil giant for causing massive toxic pollution to the Amazon, as summarized here and in this segment on 60 Minutes.  Chevron wants payback, but it is suddenly getting cold feet now that the Oct. 15 trial date is nearing. See here and here for more about Chevron’s sudden case of the jitters.
In an astounding move, Chevron recently disclosed that it is ready to drop all damages claims against the Ecuadorians and Donziger (who are being sued for $60 billion) just to avoid a jury of American citizens.  It is becoming abundantly clear that the facts of this case will never be Chevron’s friend.  The Ecuador court found that Chevron’s own scientific evidence and internal audit reports not only proved the claims against it, but also showed the company tried to obstruct justice by ordering employees to destroy incriminating documents
That’s why Chevron asked Judge Lewis A. Kaplan to rule the RICO trial will not include the overwhelming scientific evidence of Chevron’s contamination in Ecuador.  Kaplan granted Chevron’s request, essentially disabling any possibility of a meaningful defense in the case.  (The defendants want to use the scientific evidence to prove Chevron’s charges of fraud are baseless.)
Chevron’s new plan is to drop all damages claims so that Judge Kaplan can decide the case alone and provide the company with an injunction blocking the winners of the lawsuit from enforcing their judgment worldwide.  There are many problems with this approach, which we explain below. But a trial before Kaplan would virtually guarantee the company a temporary victory – however hollow and illegitimate it might be in the eyes of the world. 

There is a big problem - Judge Kaplan now faces an embarrassing motion for recusal that will be heard by the Second Circuit Court of Appeals on September 26 in Manhattan.  With the trial scheduled to start soon after, the timing is not good for Chevron.

With its options narrowing, Chevron’s desperation is almost palpable.

Just days ago, the company quietly notified the Second Circuit that Olson will replace Randy Mastro as the company’s lead appellate lawyer in the upcoming argument.  Mastro is the former New York City deputy mayor (under Rudy Guliani) and political operative whose trial skills earned his client a $19 billion adverse judgment out of Ecuador.
Olson comes from a different class altogether.  He is the former Solicitor General of the United States under the Bush Administration and has argued roughly 60 cases before the U.S. Supreme Court.   He joins an estimated 2,000 other Chevron legal personnel from the 60 law firms used by the oil giant to try to avoid paying for its toxic calamity in the Amazon. 

The other new Chevron team member for the upcoming argument is Michael Mukasey, the former Attorney General of the United States (also under the Bush Administration).  Mukasey has applied to appear on behalf of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, an organization that in recent years has received millions of dollars in contributions from Chevron.  Mukasey is the former chief judge of the Southern District of New York, where Kaplan sits.
Olson and Mukasey are key members of our country’s Republican legal machine – the same machine that brought us Bush v. Gore and the unconscionable Swift Boating of John Kerry during the 2004 presidential campaign.  That the Republican dream team is now mobilizing to protect Judge Kaplan deserves attention. Without Judge Kaplan, there is real danger that Chevron’s house of cards will collapse and the plaintiff’s bar might finally hold an oil major accountable on a mass scale for crimes and wrongdoing overseas.  That’s never happened before.

We digress to note that R. Hewitt Pate, Chevron’s General Counsel, served in the Bush Administration with both Olson and Mukasey.  To illustrate the warped value system of Chevron’s management team, the company gave Pate a whopping raise to $7.5 million the same year his legal team was hit with a $19 billion adverse judgment in Ecuador.  Pate has also authorized Chevron to pay an estimated $1 billion in legal fees since 2009 to Olson’s law firm, Gibson Dunn & Crutcher, to lead the assault on the Ecuadorian villagers and their counsel.
For Chevron, the entire purpose of the RICO case is to create a “stink factor” that might muck up enforcement actions the Ecuadorians have filed against Chevron assets around the world to collect on their judgment.  Judge Kaplan has unabashedly promoted the RICO case at every turn, calling the Ecuadorians the “so-called” plaintiffs and saying Donziger’s goal is to “fix the balance of payments deficit” of the United States.  He also claimed the Ecuador case “is not bona fide” litigation.

Chevron recently disclosed to Kaplan’s court that it has at least 114 lawyers working on the matter at Gibson Dunn.  Donziger is representing himself pro se.  As far as we can tell, he and solo practitioner Julio Gomez (who represents the Ecuadorians) are doing a pretty good job of beating back the advancing Chevron army. 

We note the last time Chevron showed up before the Second Circuit the panel of judges reversed Judge Kaplan’s illegal global injunction purporting to block the Ecuador judgment worldwide.  Mastro literally was laughed out of court when he could not answer basic questions from the panel.

Chevron is now asking Judge Kaplan to ditch a jury and impose the exact same injunction that the Circuit previously said was illegal.   It makes no sense, and leaves us scratching our heads. This is increasingly looking like a chess game of giants in which Donziger and his clients are treated as pawns.
Olson normally would never show up for a regular recusal proceeding.  But there is nothing regular about this one. Judge Kaplan is a vital asset to Chevron as it attempts to fulfill its longstanding promise to tie up the Ecuadorians with a “lifetime of litigation” if they don’t drop their claims.  As famed lawyer John Keker (Donziger’s former counsel) said last May, Chevron is trying to win by might what it cannot win on merit. 

(For background on Ted Olson’s previous foray into the Ecuador case on behalf of Chevron, read this blog posting from October 10, 2012.)

Monday, September 16, 2013

Bribery Bombshell Threatens Chevron Legal Strategy In Ecuador Case

Late last week, lawyer Steven Donziger and the Ecuadorian villagers who have fought for decades to force Chevron to clean up its poisonous mess in their rainforest lands filed a motion in U.S. Federal court that could spell an end to the oil giant's legal maneuverings and attempts to evade responsibility for its toxic legacy in the Amazon.

According to the filing, Chevron has engaged in a “pattern of misconduct and corruption” including offering a $1 million dollar bribe to the Ecuadorian judge who ruled against the company in 2011, and ordered Chevron to pay $19 billion in compensatory and punitive damages.

A press release on Friday announced the bombshell revelations contained in the motion, which called for Chevron's retaliatory RICO suit—currently scheduled to go on trial in mid-October—to be terminated.

The filing outlines Chevron’s unlawful payments and bribes to witnesses and concludes that this conduct has “so damaged the integrity” of the proceedings that at this point, a fair trial is simply impossible.

“When the conduct is this egregious, there is simply no other way to ensure justice than to end the entire proceeding,” said Christopher Gowen, an attorney and spokesman who is advising the Ecuadorians and their attorney, Steven R. Donziger.

Supporters of the Ecuadorian indigenous and farmer communities who have suffered most from the massive oil pollution for which Chevron was found culpable, will be familiar with some of the cynical efforts the oil company undertook to corrupt the Ecuadorian legal proceedings since the trial opened in the oil boom town of Lago Agrio in 2003.

Last week's motion from the Ecuadorians and their US lawyer Steven Donziger lay out the sordid case of Chevron's admitted dirty tricks operative Diego Borja and the secret labs he helped set up to manipulate pollution sampling in the trial. The latest motion recounts the airtight evidence regarding Borja—including recordings of Chevron's former contractor admitting that the oil giant would lose the trial “like this” (with a snap of his fingers) if he revealed all the evidence he possesses of the company's guilt for contamination in Ecuador. But Chevron has paid Borja a staggering sum of $2.2 million in hush money, according to the filing.

But the bombshell in this latest motion is Chevron's attempt to bribe the judge who ruled against the company in 2011, after an epic 8-year trial. According to the press release:

One of the illicit payments – in the amount of $1 million -- was offered as a bribe to the Ecuador judge who wrote the opinion finding Chevron liable for $19 billion in damages for dumping toxic waste into the rainforest. The bribe was intended to coax the judge, Nicolas Zambrano, into renouncing his own ruling which was based on a 220,000-page evidentiary record accumulated over an eight-year trial, according to a sworn affidavit cited in the motion.
Zambrano intends to testify about the bribe offer in the RICO case should it proceed to trial as scheduled in mid-October, according to a recent court filing. Chevron filed the RICO action in New York federal court as a last-ditch attempt to thwart the Ecuador court judgment; the company was also countersued for fraud and extortion by Donziger, who has advised the Ecuadorians for two decades. (A summary of the overwhelming evidence against Chevron as found by the Ecuador court can be read here.)

The press release provides a summary of the evidence of Chevron’s illegal payments and bribes as outlined in the motion:

**Chevron lawyer Andres Rivero and another Chevron agent known as “Investigator #5” used a former Ecuadorian judge and key Chevron witness (Alberto Guerra) as a conduit to offer the $1 million bribe to Zambrano, whose sworn affidavit is available here. Rivero recorded himself paying Guerra thousands of dollars in cash out of a suitcase during a secret meeting in Ecuador. Guerra presided over the case for three months in 2003.
**Chevron signed a contract guaranteeing Guerra payments at least ten times his annual salary as an Ecuadorian judge in exchange for false testimony where he claims the Ecuadorian plaintiffs bribed him. The exorbitant payments were arranged directly in a meeting in Chicago by Randy Mastro, Chevron’s lead outside counsel at the law firm of Gibson Dunn & Crutcher. Mastro’s practice group already has been sanctioned once by a federal judge in the case for engaging in unethical conduct.
**The filing asserts that the benefits given to Guerra constitute criminal violations that run afoul of the Federal Anti-Gratuity Statute, which prohibits payments to non-expert witnesses for testimony. The argument that the payments to Guerra are illegal is supported by a sworn affidavit provided by Erwin Chemerinsky, a prominent ethics expert and Dean of the law school at the University of California, Irvine.
**The motion documents that Chevron, by its own admission, not only paid Guerra cash from a suitcase but moved his entire family to the United States; promised him an annual salary of $144,000, or roughly 30 times the per capita annual income in Ecuador; has provided him a car, health insurance, cell phones, a housing allowance, and payments for travel expenses and an immigration lawyer who happens to be none other than Ira Kurzbam, former President of the American Immigration Lawyers Association. Chevron appears to be helping Guerra seek political asylum in the U.S. under false pretenses, said Donziger.
**The motion also outlines $2.2 million in payments and “hush money” Chevron made to employee Diego Borja. Borja, who worked for Chevron’s legal team in Ecuador since 2004, has admitted on tape that he was the company’s “dirty tricks” operative during the Ecuador trial. He also admitted he tried to entrap a sitting judge in a bribery scandal, set up dummy companies, and that he and his wife ran a supposedly independent laboratory actually controlled by Chevron. For background on Chevron’s attempts to corrupt the Ecuador trial through Borja, see here.
**Chevron also used “coercion and the threat of financial ruin” to blackmail two U.S. scientists, Douglas Beltman and Ann Maest, into disavowing their prior sworn testimony that the oil company is responsible for extensive toxic pollution in Ecuador. Chevron even contacted clients of Stratus to falsely claim that the company had been found to have committed “fraud” in Ecuador as a way to pressure the scientists to “flip” to Chevron’s side.
**Chevron also engaged in witness tampering by coercing Christopher Bogart – a former financial backer of the Ecuadorians who runs a litigation hedge fund – to submit a false affidavit claiming he was misled about key parts of the underlying case. Bogart already has been discredited as a liar in a separate court filing that seeks to exclude his testimony.

According to the press release from Gowen, an American University law professor, Chevron is “reeling over the risk posed by its own RICO allegations given the obvious credibility problems of its witnesses.” Gowen also says that Chevron appears “utterly desperate” to avoid a jury trial in the RICO case.

Finally, the motion highlights the misconduct of the lawyers from Chevron's outside legal firm Gibson Dunn, & Crutcher.  It cites their “track record of presenting false or misleading testimony to U.S. courts on behalf of their corporate clients,” according to the press release. The motion requests legal sanctions of Randy Mastro, Andrea Neumann and Scott Edelman, who have been the architects of Chevron's legal strategy in their efforts to evade accountability.

With each passing day, Chevron looks increasingly desperate to avoid a jury trial in its retaliatory RICO suit.  Its best hope is for some sort of legal end-around that will allow its favored U.S. judge, Lewis Kaplan, to rule alone, virtually guaranteeing an outcome in Chevron's favor that almost certainly will not withstand an appeal. And with each passing day, the company's pathway to impunity for its crimes in Ecuador becomes more cluttered with roadblocks, fashioned from the perseverance of the communities in Ecuador's Amazon who continue to fight for justice.

For background on how Chevron decimated indigenous and farmer communities by dumping billions of gallons of toxic waste in Ecuador’s Amazon, watch this video overview or this 60 Minutes segment, or review this summary of the overwhelming evidence against the company.  Chevron is now fighting a $19 billion judgment against the company.

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Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Ahead of Trial, Chevron Drops $60 Billion Damages Claim Against Ecuadorians in RICO Suit; Maneuvering to Avoid Airing of its Crimes in Ecuador

In a clear 11th-hour retreat that suggests it does not believe its own allegations, Chevron has taken the extraordinary step of pleading with a U.S. judge to block a jury from deciding its retaliatory “fraud” and RICO claims against Ecuadorian villagers and their U.S. lawyer. The company also said it was even prepared to drop a $60 billion damages claim if the judge agrees to deny the defendants a jury trial. Chevron's $60 billion figure is based on three times the $19 billion Ecuadorian judgement, plus costs.

Thus reads the introduction of a press release today—the headline: 'Bombshell Retreat: Chevron Seeks to Drop $60 Billion in Damages In Ecuador Case'—from the Gowen Group, whose founding partner Chris Gowen is serving as an adviser to the Ecuadorians and their longtime New York-based lawyer, Steven Donziger.

Chevron filed a series of motions over the weekend in the retaliatory lawsuit the oil giant filed against Donziger as well as the Ecuadorians whose names appear as representative plaintiffs in the original lawsuit against Chevron for massive contamination of their rainforest communities. Here is the motion dropping its damages claims against the Ecuadorians.

Adviser Chris Gowen said, “Chevron has shown over and over that its only legal strategy is to outspend everyone and continue to run from the law for another twenty years. When a litigant tries to avoid a jury, you can be certain that litigant knows it has no case. This is an extraordinarily telling moment that suggests a collapse of confidence in the Chevron camp.”

The press release continues:
Donziger and his clients have long contended that Chevron’s RICO case was a function of distorted and manufactured evidence helped along by Judge Kaplan, who has consistently made disparaging remarks about Ecuador’s judicial system. Donziger filed detailed counterclaims accusing Chevron of using the RICO case as a smokescreen to hide its environmental crimes, fraud and bribery attempts in Ecuador. (Kaplan has refused to let those claims go forward in the context of the RICO trial.)
And then it quotes Donziger:
“For three years, Chevron has used its RICO suit largely for public relations purposes to falsely taint the Ecuador case and tarnish my personal reputation. When it comes time to put their allegations to the test, Chevron chickens out and runs into the arms of its favorite judge for protection. The entire situation is an affront to American values.”
Advocates for the indigenous and farmer communities in the areas polluted by Chevron have for several years kept a spotlight on exactly why Judge Lewis Kaplan is what Donziger calls “its favorite judge.” He has shown shocking pro-Chevron bias; he calls the environmental lawsuit "a giant game" and the Ecuadorians the “so-called plaintiffs” and refers to them enforcing the judgment they won against the company by saying, "I don't think there is anybody in this courtroom who wants to pull his car into a gas station to fill up and finds that there isn't any gas there because these folks have attached [the company's assets] in Singapore or wherever else."

Donziger and the Ecuadorians have filed a writ of mandamus petition asking the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals to remove Judge Kaplan for his impartiality in the case. On Sept. 26th, a 3-judge panel from the appellate court will hear arguments on the motion for Judge Kaplan's reassignment from the trial—that is, only a few weeks before the RICO trial is scheduled to begin on Oct. 15th. As the release states, “The scheduling of such an argument just before trial is a rare occurrence and suggests the higher court is watching Kaplan with great scrutiny.”

With these latest court filings, according to Donziger and his team, Chevron's goal is:
to have Kaplan conduct a rapid "show trial" that would bar Donziger and his clients from mounting a meaningful defense. Once Kaplan makes his expected “findings” against Donziger and the Ecuadorians, Chevron would then ask him to re-issue the same controversial global injunction purporting to bar worldwide enforcement of the Ecuador judgment that the Second Circuit Court of Appeals already ruled was illegal in 2011.
The most shocking stuff in Chevron's latest legal machinations is laid out plainly in their summary Notice of Motions in limine, which is an astonishing request to Judge Kaplan that he issues orders that would basically prevent Donziger and the Ecuadorians from mounting any sort of defense, or bring up any evidence of Chevron's contamination of the Ecuadorian Amazon, or its bad faith conduct during the trial in Ecuador.

Here is an excerpt:
Chevron requests that this Court enter an order:
  • precluding Defendants from offering at trial evidence, arguments, or questioning in support of the proposition that the findings of the Cabrera report, the Ecuadorian judgment, or Defendants’ allegations in the Ecuadorian proceeding were accurate or supported by evidence and sound scientific analysis, including but not limited to a prohibition on the submission of evidence, arguments, or questioning regarding the following topics, except insofar as the evidence is otherwise relevant: 
  • alleged environmental and human conditions in the Oriente region of Ecuador, including scientific or other studies, testing or sampling results, video or still images, or personal testimonies; and 
  • the procedures employed in the TexPet Remediation, the efficacy of those procedures, or their compliance with agreements and with Ecuadorian law.
In the motion, Chevron shows real hubris going even further, asking Judge Kaplan to preclude the defendants from raising at trial:
  • Chevron’s purported conduct in the Lago Agrio Litigation, including contacts with Ecuadorian government officials, arguments made by Chevron to the Lago Agrio Court, the cancellation and subsequent rescheduling of the Guanta inspection, Chevron’s purported “sting” operation against an Ecuadorian judge, Chevron’s use of a purported “sham laboratory”, Chevron’s purported “procedural misconduct” in filing motions in the Lago Agrio Litigation, Chevron’s purported ex parte contacts with Ecuadorian judges and court experts, any “harassment” supposedly suffered by Defendants or their co-conspirators, and any argument that their actions were justified by virtue of Chevron’s alleged misconduct; 
  • Chevron’s conduct in this and other litigation in the United States, including Chevron’s purported misuse of Section 1782 to obtain discovery for use in the Lago Agrio Litigation, Chevron’s subpoenas to email providers seeking information about Defendants and their co-conspirators, and Chevron’s surveillance of Defendants and their co-conspirators; and 
  • alleged promises and representations made by Texaco and/or TexPet in the Aguinda litigation.
You can read the entire motion here, and see how Chevron is hoping to abuse the judicial process in this RICO show trial, in a similar way that the company abused the judicial process in Ecuador, in an attempt to evade accountability for its disaster in the Amazon.

But the 2nd Circuit is watching. As are global supporters of the Ecuadorian communities. As are the communities themselves, who continue fighting for justice, despite the abuse they continue to deal with, from the oil-polluted environment they live in to courtrooms thousands of miles away.

For background on how Chevron decimated indigenous and farmer communities by dumping billions of gallons of toxic waste in Ecuador’s Amazon, watch this video overview or this 60 Minutes segment, or review this summary of the overwhelming evidence against the company.  Chevron is now fighting a $19 billion judgment against the company.

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Follow us on Twitter at @ChevronPit and like us on Facebook.
Visit and watch a video on ChevronToxico.com to find out more.