Supreme Court declines to hear Chevron, Ecuador case

Supreme Court declines to hear Chevron, Ecuador case
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The Supreme Court on Monday declined to hear arguments in an ongoing legal fight between Chevron Corp. and Ecuador. 

Steven Donziger, an American lawyer representing Ecuador in its legal battle over environmental damage done in the country, had appealed a lower court’s ruling that blocked penalties against Chevron in the case. 

The Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit in August ruled that Donziger engaged in “bribery, coercion and fraud” after an Ecuadoran court ruled against Chevron in 2011. The Supreme Court on Monday formally declined to hear an appeal in the case 

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The legal fight stems from Chevron’s 2001 purchase of a subsidiary that operated in Ecuador. 

Residents accused the subsidiary, Texaco, of environmental damage stemming from oil exploration in the Amazon rainforest in the 1990s. 

An Ecuadoran court in 2011 held the oil giant responsible for the incident and ordered it to pay $8.6 billion in damages. 

Chevron sued against Donziger, alleging racketeering and evidence fabrication. A federal judge in 2014 sided with the company, concluding that Donzier submitted fraudulent evidence and engaged in coercion during the case. 

The judge blocked the fine against Chevron, a decision upheld by August’s appeals court decision and Monday's denial at the Supreme Court. 

“The facts of the Ecuadorian judicial extortion scheme and the illegality of the plaintiffs’ lawyer misconduct have been finally and conclusively affirmed by the legal system of the United States,” said R. Hewitt Pate, Chevron's vice president and general counsel.

“Today’s decision is an important step toward bringing this illegal scheme to a final conclusion.”

Ecuadoran plaintiffs said Monday they will still seek judgements against Chevron in other countries, including Canada.  

“The Supreme Court’s decision closes a chapter and will allow the global public to properly focus on the true substance of the case,” Donziger said in a statement. 

He called the case “an international judgment enforcement process — in which U.S. courts have no role — and the devastating environmental and human tragedy that both Chevron and the global community need to address.”