May 31, 2012, Bloomberg/Businessweek
A peripatetic, two-decade-old pollution lawsuit against Chevron has bounced from New York to Ecuador, back to New York, and now on to the Superior Court of Justice in Toronto, Canada. There is no end in sight for the highly mobile litigation. The case began in federal court in New York in 1993, when lawyers representing residents of the rainforest in eastern Ecuador filed suit against Texaco, blaming the multinational oil company for contamination of the Amazon beginning in the late 1960s. Texaco fought for nine years to get the case dismissed based on the argument that it ought to have been brought in Ecuador. In 2001, near the end of Texaco’s ultimately successful campaign to avoid a U.S. legal battle, Chevron acquired Texaco. Having promised the U.S. judiciary it would abide by the dictates of the Ecuadorian courts, Chevron discovered itself on a slippery slope toward legal disaster. In February 2011, a trial judge in Lago Agrio [Ecuador] entered an $18 billion verdict against Chevron, the largest environmental judgment ever. Chevron had declared that the Ecuadorian judicial proceedings were shot through with fraud and that it would not pay a dime to the plaintiffs or their team of American and Ecuadorian lawyers. Now the plaintiffs have launched a fresh suit in Toronto, asking a Canadian judge to enforce the Ecuadorian verdict against Chevron in Canada, where the company has a subsidiary and ample assets.
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