“In a lawsuit filed Thursday, the plaintiffs say Chevron broke a promise Texaco Inc. made in 1999 to a New York federal court to abide by the Ecuadorean legal system if the court dismissed the environmental case.” – Wall Street Journal, 1/14/10
Chevron has never operated in Ecuador, a fact that cannot be disputed. Texaco’s role in oil operations in the country ended in 1992. Since then, Ecuador’s government owned oil company, Petroecuador, has been the exclusive operator of the oil fields and has amassed a deplorable environmental record.
The claim filed against Chevron on January 14 is erroneous and subsequent media statements by the plaintiffs are incorrect and misleading. Chevron did not agree to any stipulation concerning jurisdiction in Ecuador. In fact, Chevron was not a party to the prior New York action. American trial lawyers are once again distorting the record. To clarify, the case that was brought against Texaco in New York is totally different than what has been brought against Chevron in Ecuador. The case against Chevron in Ecuador does not seek an award for the 48 named plaintiffs. Rather, it seeks to force Chevron to pay for the remaining remediation work that the government of Ecuador has never performed. Under an agreement with the government of Ecuador, Texaco spent $40 million performing its agreed-upon share of the clean-up work. Texaco obtained full and complete releases after meeting all the requirements placed upon it by the government of Ecuador. The remaining remediation work required is the exclusive responsibility of the government of Ecuador. The case against Texaco in New York was dismissed. Period. It was not moved, transferred, or refilled. A brand new and totally different case was brought against Chevron in Ecuador. There are no stipulations from the New York action that cover a different claim against a different party in Ecuador. Texaco never waived its rights to seek the enforcement of valid agreements and contracts with the government of Ecuador. Texaco has never waived its rights to resist a verdict that is the product of fraud and a broken legal system.
It is important to understand that the two cases are very different. The case brought against Texaco in New York was about alleged personal injuries and alleged personal damages. The case against Chevron in Ecuador is exclusively about alleged damages to public lands. Of the 48 plaintiffs in the Ecuador case, there are no claims for personal injury or personal damages of any kind.