One of the most egregious legal frauds in history may finally be over. On Monday a unanimous three-judge panel of the Second Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that an Ecuadorian judgment against Chevron was the product of fraud, coercion and bribery and couldn’t be enforced.
In a 127-page opinion, Judge Amalya Kearse said the court “found no basis for dismissal or reversal” of a lower court’s decision and called lawyer Steven Donziger’s conduct in pursuit of Chevron “corrupt” and a fiasco of legal terrorism and ransom at the highest level. “Donziger hoped for an astronomic estimate that would have an in terrorem effect,” the court wrote, “impelling Chevron to agree to a settlement.”
That’s an understatement. Readers will recall the parade of malfeasance perpetrated by Mr. Donziger as he pursued a $113 billion case for what he claimed were oil pits left by Texaco (now merged with Chevron) in the 1970s. Texaco’s pits had long been cleaned up and the company had been released from liability by Ecuador’s government, but Mr. Donziger lined up environmentalists and even actress Daryl Hannah to create a media circus that would force the company to settle. Read more >>