The United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit has issued a ruling blocking the enforcement of an Ecuadorian court’s 2011 $8.646 billion judgment against Chevron Corp.
The Second Court found the Ecuadorian judgment against Chevron had been “procured” through the “defendants’ bribery, coercion, and fraud”. However, the court was careful to state its findings concerned the conduct of participants through the litigation process not the environmental and health issues which were raised in the original suit. The Court wrote that it assumes “there is pollution in the Orienté” and that “improvement of conditions for the residents of the Orienté appears to be both desirable and overdue”, but “even if Donziger and his clients had a just cause–and the Court expresses no opinion on that–they were not entitled to corrupt the process to achieve their goal.”
An Ecuadorian court had found Chevron guilty of environmental contamination from 1964-1992 under Texaco operations (Chevron acquired Texaco’s stock in 2001). The court had awarded the plaintiffs $17.292 billion in compensatory and punitive damages (the $8.646 billion punitive portion of the award was later overturned on appeal.)
Ecuador levied fines and penalties against Chevron for soil contamination ($5.4 billion dollar judgment), compensation for the communities affected, and, fines regarding restoration of water and land in the regions affected.
Karen Hinton, U.S. spokesperson for the Ecuadorians who sued Chevron, stated in an August 6, 2016 press release that the group is exploring “all options for further appeal.”