[JURIST] Ecuadorian plaintiffs seeking to collect on a judgment against Chevron Corp [corporate website; JURIST news archive] over Amazon pollution on Wednesday filed a collection action [complaint, PDF] in Ontario’s Superior Court of Justice [official website]. The pollution was originally caused by Texaco in the 1980s. Chevron acquired the company with its liabilities in 2001. With this new lawsuit, the plaintiffs seek to enforce a judgment against the corporation for $18.2 billion that was issued in January [JURIST report] by the Provincial Court of Justice of Sucumbios in Lago Agrio, Ecuador. The plaintiffs are targeting the various subsidiaries including Chevron Canada Limited and Chevron Canada Financial Limited because Chevron no longer has assets in Ecuador. Chevron has refused the accusations and claims that the plaintiffs’ lawyers engaged in fraud and misconduct [statement, PDF] and that the Ecuadorian court proceedings were fraudulent in that they did not observe the rule of law.
In February, the Provincial Court of Justice of Sucumbios rejected [JURIST report] an arbitration decision by The Hague Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) [official website] 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. The Ecuadorian court reasoned that citizens’ human rights supersede international trade law and allowed the proceeding to go before the Supreme Court of Ecuador. A month earlier, the US Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit [official website] 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 [official website] reasoning that judgment-debtors like Chevron can challenge a foreign judgment’s validity under the Uniform Foreign Money-Judgments Recognition Act [text, PDF] only defensively and in response to an attempted enforcement which was not initiated by the plaintiffs. The original judgment was set for $8.6 billion [JURIST report] but was more than doubled for Chevron’s refusal to pay “moral reparations” to the Ecuadorian government, as required by the original ruling. Plaintiffs initially filed suit in the Southern District of New York in 1993 against Texaco that caused the pollution in the Amazon in the 1980s.