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Manhattan Judge Rules Chevron Allowed to File Fraud Claims Against Patton Boggs
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Chevron Corp is permitted to sue the law firm of Patton Boggs as ruled by a New York judge, according to a report from Reuters. The lawsuit comes from claims that the firm engaged in fraud when it tried to enforce a multibillion-dollar environmental judgment issued for Ecuadorean villagers.

Judge Lewis Kaplan issued the ruling on Monday in Manhattan federal court. Judge Kaplan said that he had “difficulties” with the argument made by Patton Boggs. One such argument was that a New York court did not have the jurisdiction to hear the case.

  
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“This is about holding accountable all those who are responsible for trying to enforce this travesty of justice that occurred in Ecuador,” Chevron’s lawyer, Randy Mastro, said in an interview. “Now there will be the opportunity to hold Patton Boggs accountable for its role.”

A judge in Ecuador ruled in 2011 in favor of Steven Donziger, a lawyer for the plaintiffs, in the case against Chevron. The lawsuit was filed in regards to the company polluting the rainforest in the country. The villagers were awarded $18 billion, but reduced to $9.5 billion in 2013.

The villagers hired Patton Boggs in 2010 to find a way to enforce the judgment. James Tyrrell was in charge of the enforcement project.

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Kaplan ruled on March 4 that there was “clear and convincing evidence” that the legal team of Donziger used bribery, extortion and fraud to acquire the judgment.

In May, Chevron asked Kaplan if it could file counterclaims against Patton Boggs after it began enforcement efforts. The claims were that the firm concealed the fraudulent tactics used by Donziger.



According to court documents, Chevron said that Tyrrell took the case even though he had ethical concerns about the merits of the case but took it because he had “enormous financial pressure at Patton Boggs.”

Patton Boggs said back in June that the court did not have the jurisdiction to rule on the case because the firm’s partners are ‘stateless’ persons in Dubai, Doha Abu Dhabi and other foreign places. For this reason, the firm said that the case could not be tried in a New York court.

On Monday, Kaplan said that the partners involved from Patton Boggs are “at least arguably were domiciliaries of the states of the United States.” Kaplan also said that the firm was burdened to prove its partners were going to give up their domiciles in the United States and take up residency in a foreign country.

“That burden has not been sustained here.”



 

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