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Federal judge blocks US courts from enforcing Chevron judgment

A judge for the US District Court for the Southern District of New York [official website] ruled [opinion, PDF] Tuesday that US courts could not be used to collect $9.51 billion in fines and legal fees that previously resulted in an Ecuadorian court's judgment against Chevron [corporate website]. Judge Lewis Kaplan wrote in his near 500-page ruling that the punishment inflicted against Chevron did not justify the means, and that the Ecuadorian court's judgement "was obtained by corrupt means." Kaplan reported that fraudulent evidence had been introduced in the case, and that lawyers arranged to write the opinion against Chevron themselves by coercing a judge. Hewitt Pate, Chevron vice president, stated [press release] regarding the judgment, "We are confident that any court that respects the rule of law will likewise find the Ecuadorian judgment to be illegitimate and unenforceable." Lawyers for Ecuadoreans reported that they will be filing an appeal, saying [AP report] the decision "constitutes a mockery of the rule of law and will not serve to reduce the risk the oil company faces in the imminent collection of the sentence dictated against it by the Ecuadorean justice system."

This is the newest result in one of the pending cases against Chevron. An Ecuadorian court in November ordered Chevron [JURIST report] to pay USD $9.51 billion in fines and legal fees, which significantly reduced the court's earlier judgement. In June of 2012 Ecuador filed a lawsuit [JURIST report] against Chevron in Canada. Earlier, in February, the Provincial Court of Justice of Sucumbios rejected [JURIST report] an arbitration decision by The PCA which had the effect of temporarily enjoining the $18.2 billion judgment that was upheld in January after an appeal [JURIST report] until a final judgment was made by the PCA. A month earlier, the US Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit reversed [JURIST report] the injunction against enforcement of the multi-billion judgment granted to Chevron by the US District Court for the Southern District of New York, reasoning that judgment-debtors like Chevron can challenge a foreign judgment's validity under the Uniform Foreign Money-Judgments Recognition Act only defensively and in response to an attempted enforcement which was not initiated by the plaintiffs.

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