Canada top court rules for Ecuador villagers in suit against Chevron

Canada top court rules for Ecuador villagers in suit against Chevron

[JURIST] The Supreme Court of Canada [official website] on Friday ruled [judgement] in favor of Ecuadorian villagers seeking to enforce a multi-billion dollar judgment against the Chevron Corporation. In 2011, the 30,000 villagers secured [JURIST report] a $17.2 billion judgment in an Ecuador court against Chevron for environmental damage to a rain forest in the Lago Agrio region. Damages were subsequently reduced [JURIST report] by an appeals court to $9.5 billion. Friday’s 7-0 ruling means that the Ecuadorians may pursue the judgment against Chevron in Canada through its subsidiary, Chevron Canada Limited. Chevron has put up a vigorous legal battle to avoid the fine, arguing that, because the damage was perpetrated by Texaco between 1972 and 1990, before it was bought out by Chevron in 2001, and because Texaco signed an agreement with Ecuador to absolve it of responsibility after a $40 million cleanup effort, Chevron should not be required to pay out for its former competitor.

This is one of several legal battles waged in the last few years regarding Chevron’s practices in Ecuador. In March of last year, Judge Lewis Kaplan of the US District Court for the Southern District of New York ruled [JURIST report] that US courts could not be used to enforce the Ecuadorian ruling against Chevron. In ruling Kaplan stated that the Ecuadorian proceedings were fraught with corruption and the punishment did not “justify the means.” Later that month, Chevron filed suit [JURIST report] in the Southern District of New York against attorney Steven Donziger for $32 million in fees relating to a suit it won against his firm for fraud and racketeering throughout the course of the 2011 Ecuadorian litigation.