An $18 billion legal judgment has been filed against Chevron for damage done to the rain forest environment in Ecuador. Chevron has requested that U.S. Courts intervene and prevent the monies from being collected for fear that its worldwide financial interests will suffer immediate irreversible harm, but a federal judge reported Friday that he currently does not intend to block collection of the judgment.
The court’s decision was reached last February when the court ruled that Texaco, which had been bought by Chevron in 2001, had been polluting the rain forest when it had been doing business there during 1972-1990. Chevron’s defense against owing any sort of penalty is that Ecuador had forgiven Texaco of any liability after the company had agreed to spend $40 million in a cleanup effort.
Chevron attempted to prevent the judgment collection again following an appeal hearing last week in Ecuador in which the $18 million judgment was upheld. On Thursday, Chevron requested that the 2nd U.S. Court of Appeals in Manhattan prevent Ecuador from collecting on the order until they have had an opportunity to substantiate the assertion that the judgment was obtained illegally.
Randy Mastro is the lawyer for Chevron. He stated in papers filed in court that preventing collection of the judgment is necessary because the plaintiffs will otherwise be able to harass Chevron and cause disruption to its operations both domestic and foreign. The appeals hearing in Ecuador this week noted that the validity of Chevron’s allegations had yet to be determined by the U.S. court system.
Karen Hinton is the U.S. spokesperson for the Ecuadorean people who feel that Texaco ravished their lands and left behind waste products that are toxic to the environment. She feels that Judge Kaplan’s ruling on Friday is another rebuke against Chevron. Craig Smyser is the U.S. lawyer representing the Ecuador people in the lawsuit. He wrote to Judge Kaplan prior to the ruling on Friday and stated that the solution Chevron is asking the court to consider has not ever been granted before in the United States when similar situations have occurred. He does not feel that Chevron’s antics should influence the court’s decision in granting an order to stop collection of the penalty.
In a rebuttal statement, Chevron declares that Kaplan did not find fault with the evidence of fraud presented and that the motion was decided on a very narrow margin. Chevron feels the court allowed leeway for future motions on the issue and states they plan to continue their case.