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Court Rules Attorney Cannot Collect $9 Billion Chevron Win
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The logo of Dow Jones Industrial Average stock market index listed company Chevron (CVX) is seen in Los Angeles, California, United States, April 12, 2016. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson/File Photo - RTX2J69C

Photo courtesy of Reuters. 

Summary: An appeals court has ruled that Chevron does not need to pay a $9 billion judgment to the plaintiffs of an Ecuadoran pollution case. 

Imagine winning billions of dollars only to have it snatched away before you could even touch one of the bills. That’s what happened to attorney Steven Donzinger and his clients.


After winning $9 billion from the Chevron Corporation, lawyer Steven Donziger learned this week that he will not be able to collect. This decision was ruled on Monday by the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

According to ABA Journal, “A federal appeals court has upheld a federal judge’s decision to block enforcement of a $9 billion Ecuadorian judgment against Chevron Corp. after determining the award was the product of bribery, coercion and fraud.”

Donzinger represented Ecuadorian plaintiffs who sued Chevron because of alleged environmental damage during oil explorations. They won a $9 billion judgment, which Chevron appealed, stating that justice had been “perverted” in the case.

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Donzinger had spent almost two decades working on the case, Reuters said.

In March of 2014, U.S. District Judge Lewis Kaplan ruled that Donzinger’s win was not valid. He had found a RICO violation, which included ghostwriting the Ecuadorian judgment and bribing a judge $500,000 with laundered money. Kaplan also found that an expert witness was portrayed to not be knowledgeable, and Kaplan stated that there was an obstruction of justice in the case.

On Monday, a second appeals court devastated Donzinger and his clients, by upholding Kaplan’s ruling. In the 2nd Circuit Court opinion, evidence of wrongdoing by Donzinger and his legal team was documented as well as Kaplan’s findings which were undisputed.

“Even innocent clients may not benefit from the fraud of their attorney,” Circuit Judge Amalya Kearse wrote.

Donzinger’s attorney Deepak Gupta said they are reviewing next steps.

What do you think of this case? Let us know in the comments below.

Source: ABA Journal, Reuters



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