The United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit today issued an order denying the Ecuadorian plaintiffs’ attempt to recuse Judge Lewis Kaplan, vacating Judge Kaplan’s preliminary injunction against enforcement of the Ecuadorian judgment against Chevron, and staying Chevron’s claim for a declaratory judgment that the Ecuadorian judgment is unenforceable.
In denying the Ecuadorian plaintiffs’ mandamus petition, the Second Circuit rejected accusations that Judge Kaplan is biased and refused to recuse him or otherwise reassign the case. The Second Circuit vacated the preliminary injunction after receiving on September 16, 2011 a written representation from the Ecuadorian plaintiffs’ lawyers that they would not attempt to enforce the Ecuadorian judgment during the pendency of the first instance appeal in Ecuador — a promise the Ecuadorian plaintiffs repeatedly refused to make to the trial court before and since the preliminary injunction first issued. Chevron’s lawsuit against the Lago Agrio plaintiffs and their representatives for violations of the federal RICO statute, common law fraud, and other laws will continue. Chevron’s claims are supported by overwhelming evidence — documented in the Ecuadorian plaintiffs’ lawyers’ own documents and in their lawyers’ own statements caught on videotape — that the Lago Agrio plaintiffs’ lawyers made corrupt payments to an Ecuadorian court official from a secret bank account, forged expert reports that were submitted in the name of court experts and contained fraudulent data, and even participated in the fraudulent drafting of the Ecuadorian court’s judgment. There is no legitimate evidence supporting any finding of liability against Chevron because Texaco Petroleum Company cleaned up its share of environmental impacts in Ecuador and the remaining impacts are the responsibility of the government of Ecuador and its state-owned oil company, Petroecuador.
Chevron is disappointed that the trial scheduled for November has been stayed, but remains committed to its consistent goal — obtaining judicial review on the merits of the Ecuadorian plaintiffs’ lawyers’ fraud before they are allowed to attempt enforcement of the Ecuadorian judgment. Chevron remains confident that once the full facts are examined, the fraudulent judgment will be found unenforceable and those who procured it will be required to answer for their misconduct.
The Second Circuit’s order has no effect on the February 9, 2011 Order for Interim Measures issued by the Bilateral Investment Treaty Arbitration Tribunal presiding over Chevron’s claims against Ecuador in the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague. The Treaty Arbitration Tribunal’s order continues to require Ecuador to take all measures at its disposal to suspend or cause to be suspended the enforcement or recognition within and without Ecuador of any judgment against Chevron in the Lago Agrio case pending further order of the Tribunal.