What Others Are Saying about the Chevron v. Donziger RICO Decision

March 14, 2014 • Chevron Ecuador Trial In The News

PRWeek (opinion by Sam Singer) - Chevron ruling will ensure transparency applies to all organizations; Sam Singer examines an important legal ruling with impact for communications.
At the core of the plaintiffs’ strategy was the misuse of PR and social pressure, exerted through negative media stories about Chevron, digital communication attacks against the company, political pressure and lobbying, shareholder lawsuits, and protests. … Transparency makes the difference between propaganda and PR. Chevron’s victory will hopefully spur the public, press, and shareholders to no longer give any group – not just businesses and governments – a free pass when it comes to transparency.

U.S. Chamber of Commerce - Chevron Case Shows Why We Must Police Lawsuit Fraud
“That is why we need more judges like Judge Kaplan who will scrutinize the activity of lawyers to ensure that the proceedings are fair and that due process is protected. This is particularly important when enforcing judgments issued by foreign courts, which, as we’ve seen in Ecuador, sometimes lack any pretense of fairness or impartiality.”

National Review – Finally, Justice for Chevron
“Judge Kaplan’s extraordinary decision is remarkable not for its legal reasoning but for its findings of facts: falsified evidence, judges confessing to accepting bribes, ‘independent’ expert testimony drawn up by the plaintiffs.”

New York Daily News – . . . and DiNapoli, too; Investigate the state controller’s attempt to pressure Chevron
“But, as Judge Lewis Kaplan’s decision makes clear, the controller pushed the company to spend potentially billions of dollars to close a matter steeped in fraud. Worse, DiNapoli carried water for friends and campaign donors.”

Wall Street Journal - How Business Can Fight Fraudulent Lawsuits; Trial lawyers may increasingly feel the sting of the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act.
“In its RICO case against Mr. Donziger and others, Chevron produced a mountain of evidence that convinced Judge Kaplan that the actions of Mr. Donziger and the other defendants were “offensive to the laws of any nation that aspires to the rule of law, including Ecuador.” If the verdict withstands a promised appeal, it is unlikely that courts in such countries will be persuaded to enforce the judgment Mr. Donziger won in Ecuador.”

Weekly Standard – Chevron Vindicated
“In fact, this case did come out of Hollywood. Mark Hemingway’s article last week on the truthiness of politically charged documentaries (“A Documentary in Name Only”) noted that Chevron’s RICO suit against the corrupt attorneys came about in part because they subpoenaed the raw footage from an Academy Award-nominated filmmaker who made a documentary about the case. It turns out that the raw footage—not included in the film—showed the plaintiffs’ lawyers engaged in dubious conduct. The outtakes even showed the lead attorney, Steven Donziger, talking about intimidating an Ecuadorean judge. The lawyer said it would be good if the judge feared for his life.

“From there, it all started unraveling. In the end, Kaplan concluded that the legal team was responsible for writing the multibillion-dollar judgment and the Ecuadorean judge merely signed his name to it. A former Ecuadorean judge, Alberto Guerra, testified he’d been paid to ghostwrite the opinion. And Chevron’s legal team pointed out that sections of the judgment had been copied word-for-word from internal documents held by Donziger’s legal team.”

Wall Street Journal – Editorial – Legal Fraud of the Century – Steven Donziger’s tort raid on Chevron was ‘dishonest and corrupt.
“There are plenty of candidates for that title [legal fraud of the century], but after Tuesday the prize belongs to attorney Steven Donziger. Federal judge Lewis Kaplan ruled that the environmental activist had engaged in a massive racketeering scheme and declared that a $9.5 billion judgment against Chevron in an Ecuadorian court cannot be enforced in the United States….

“Chevron refused to give in, and now the case may serve as an example of how companies can fight back if they have the nerve and the cash. Mr. Donziger says he’ll appeal, but on the factual record he stands discredited. Another worthy casualty may be financially strapped Washington law firm Patton Boggs, which got involved on behalf of Burford Capital’s effort to provide litigation financing to the plaintiffs. Tuesday’s opinion means the firm won’t collect any plunder, which couldn’t happen to a nicer crowd.

Law360 – Ecuadoreans’ $9.5B Chevron Pollution Award Forever Tainted
“Any court looking at this judgment will view it as radioactive, and it will be very difficult to enforce against Chevron,” Coles said. “The court’s decision is a very clear statement that this judgment was obtained by corrupt means, and once a court finds that, it’s hard to see why a separate court would want to enforce it.” - Anthony Coles, DLA Piper

National Association of Manufacturers
“Manufacturers welcome this ruling that puts the facts and the law above false allegations and lack of due process. In Chevron v. Donziger, U.S. District Judge Lewis Kaplan made the extraordinary finding that the multibillion damage award leveled by an Ecuadorian court against Chevron was the product of fraud and racketeering.”

Forbes – Federal Court: Plaintiffs’ Lawyers Can Be Prosecuted Using Racketeering Laws Originally Intended For Mobsters
“Thus, Judge Kaplan properly applied RICO in Chevron v. Donziger because, as Judge Kaplan found, Mr. Donziger and his co-defendants formed a racketeering enterprise through which they repeatedly committed a litany of predicate offenses.

“Hopefully Chevron v. Donziger will prevent future asbestos-type mass litigation disasters through its powerful message to plaintiff’s attorneys in the mass-tort litigation business: litigate by the rules, or face serious consequences.” - John Shu, attorney who served in administrations of George H.W. Bush and George W. Bush

Bloomberg Businessweek – Chevron’s RICO Victory Provides a Model for Other Companies
“Those of us who have followed the case can’t say we’re surprised. We hope it will encourage other defendant companies that have been victimized by fraudulent lawsuits to fight back with RICO suits of their own.” - Darren McKinney, American Tort Reform Association

Law360 – Chevron Writes Playbook For Escaping Overseas Judgments
“What they care about is they can now take this to all of the other courts around the world with a U.S. court ruling finding fraud,” Percival said. “That’s what they wanted, because the U.S. judiciary is so well-respected around the world.” - University of Maryland Carey School of Law professor Robert Percival

New York Times – Big Victory for Chevron Over Claims in Ecuador
“It means Chevron is in the clear with a few qualifications. American courts are likely to recognize the impact of Judge Kaplan’s order unless and until an appeals court rules otherwise. It may also lead foreign courts to take a second look at the enforceability of the Ecuador judgment.” - Ralph G. Steinhardt, professor of law and international affairs at George Washington University

Bloomberg – Chevron Wins Ruling Ecuador Judgment Was Devil’s Deal
Kaplan’s detailed findings will make winning an appeal more difficult, said Cassandra Burke Robertson, a law professor at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland who has followed the case. “The appellate court would have to conclude that the district court’s finding is clearly erroneous, which is a very hard standard to meet,” Robertson said. “Donziger definitely has an uphill battle to seek reversal.” - Cassandra Burke Robertson, a law professor at Case Western Reserve University

Ronald D. Rotunda, co-author of Legal Ethics: The Lawyer’s Deskbook on Professional Responsibility (ABA Thomson-Reuters, 2014)
“Judge Kaplan’s decision today is a watershed of tort law. The judge found that the defendant, lawyer Steven Donziger, conspired to injure through a pattern of racketeering activity, which injured Chevron to the tune of billions of dollars. In fact, the judge used the word “racketeering” 54 times in his opinion.”

John S. Baker, Jr., Ph.D., Professor Emeritus, Louisiana State University Law School
“Even without the evidence of fraud in the Chevron case, the Ecuadorean judgment should not be enforced in the US. Ecuador and a few other Latin American countries have enacted statutes aimed at American corporations that, by their terms, clearly violate general notions of due process. Chevron would not have had to file a RICO statute if the US had a federal statute governing enforcement of foreign judgments. Unfortunately, this important issue of our relations with other countries has been left to state law, which federal courts generally must follow when asked to enforce a foreign judgment. That means, absent an offensive strategy like the one that Chevron pursued, victorious foreign plaintiffs can choose the most lenient law from the fifty states in their attempts to enforce a judgment from abroad that may violate due process. American corporations need to understand that the Chevron case has significance for every American corporation doing business abroad. Congress should pay attention and enact a single statute governing the enforcement of all foreign judgments.”

Michael Krauss, Professor of Tort Law and Legal Ethics at George Mason University School of Law
“The evidence of corruption of the Ecuadorian judicial system was overwhelming, in my opinion. Judge Kaplan’s decision is a victory for the Rule of Law. I now look forward to Chevron’s RICO claim being adjudicated, and to the American lawyers who connived in this corruption to be punished appropriately (i.e., severely).”

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