[JURIST] An Ecuadorian court on Wednesday ordered Chevron [corporate website] to pay USD $9.51 billion in fines and legal fees. This was a significant reduction [RT report] from the previous $18 billion judgment. The lawsuit, brought by the Amazon Defense Front, arises out of Chevron’s drilling for oil in Ecuador and the resulting pollution in the Amazon rainforest and surrounding towns. The original judgment was handed down [JURIST report] in 2011, but Chevron has been appealing since and has also removed its presence in Ecuador. Chevron won an arbitration [text] to the Hague’s Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) [official website] which stated Chevron was released from pollution liability a full four years before the lawsuit was filed. Chevron continues to allege fraud and corruption [Chevron backgrounder] resulted in the judgment and has an ongoing lawsuit [complaint, PDF] against Ecuador and their lawyer for racketeering. However, other groups argue [advocacy website] that Chevron’s negligent practices caused immense damage from pollution and is simply attempting to avoid any judgment.
There are several ongoing lawsuits resulting from this matter. Last June Ecuador filed a lawsuit [JURIST report] against Chevron in Canada. That 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 [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.