Nothing is quite so unremarkable as seeing a class-action trial lawyer in a Manhattan courtroom, but it’s rare to see one seated at the defendant’s table. A team of lawyers will be in that hot seat Tuesday, defending themselves in a civil racketeering lawsuit brought when they were accused of trying to drill Chevron for $18 billion in Ecuador.
Chevron has been harassed by the trial bar for two decades over the Trans-Ecuadorean oil pipeline, which was built in 1972 by Texaco and state-run Petro Ecuador. Chevron merged with Texaco and assumed its liabilities. The Ecuadorean government that once coveted the prosperity brought in by the pipeline was replaced by radical leftists. Ecuador’s current president, Rafael Correa, is a big fan of the late Hugo Chavez, the leftists’ leftist who was president of Venezuela.