When Steven Donziger started out in attempting to perpetrate a fraud against Chevron in Ecuador, he wrote in his journal that he was going to make billions of dollars in legal fees and penalties from the oil company.
Well, the shoe is now on the other foot: the fraud, bribery, extortion and the falsified scientific findings that Donziger and his plaintiffs team used against Chevron came to light.
He became the poster boy after finding that he broke Racketing Influenced and Corrupt Organizations laws in his fraud against Chevron in the Ecuadorian Amazon. And, this past week, he had to pay the piper as well to the tune of $800,000 plus in fees to Chevron after he lost the RICO case in the second district of New York federal court.
Here are some of the highlights:
Judge Kaplan first reviewed the procedures of the case, in particular noting the fact that Donziger’s and his co-conspirators’ fraud was well-documented and that they were found liable after a trial and appeal in which they did not contest the facts.
Judge Kaplan also discussed the facts leading up to the dispute, including Chevron’s costs, Donziger’s belated objections, and other irrelevant motions.
Ultimately, the Court found that this case required the assistance of the Special Masters to help oversee it due to its complexity and the conduct of Donziger.
The Court first found that Donziger’s objections to the court costs did not comply with relevant court rules, including Donziger’s insistence on submitting letter motions when doing so is expressly not allowed. On this basis, the Court denied all of Donziger’s arguments except those with respect to the Special Master fees, which the Court noted “raise at least some issues that may be decided on the existing record and without briefing.” Notwithstanding the fact that Donziger violated the rules, the Court still reviewed and dispatched Donziger’s other arguments, as well.
The Court of Judge Lewis A. Kaplan held that Donziger’s argument about the availability of attorneys’ fees was irrelevant to the narrow question of the taxation of costs.
Second, the Court held Donziger’s arguments about Guerra were irrelevant, and incorrect.
The Court also noted that “the testimony of Judge Guerra was far from indispensable to the judgment rendered in this case,” because “this Court would have reached precisely the same result in this case even without the testimony of Alberto Guerra.”
Third, the Court rejected Donziger’s request to transfer venue, noting that he never produced the SDNY complaint, and in any event it “would be immaterial here.” In particular, Judge Kaplan stated that “Judges have a duty to refer reliable evidence of professional misconduct by lawyers to relevant disciplinary authority.” Then Judge Kaplan rejected Donziger’s arguments that the imposition of costs would violate the First Amendment, that Judge Kaplan should recuse himself, and that Chevron was guilty of “fraud on the court” because of the Guerra testimony.
The Court then analyzed and rejected Donziger’s claims to have “limited means.” Judge Kaplan noted that “Donziger has not carried, or even attempted to carry,” his burden to establish his financial hardship, noting his long history of making the same argument but never supporting it with any real evidence. Judge Kaplan also noted the presence of third-party funders: “Perhaps more fundamentally, Donziger’s focus on his supposed personal circumstances should not blind one to the fact that the litigation with Chevron, including this case, has been financed by third-party funders. And it is Donziger who, with limited and apparently now long past exceptions, essentially has controlled the money.” Likewise, Judge Kaplan rejected Donziger’s argument that costs should not be taxed because of the disparity in the parties’ resources, because even a very large disparity “does not justify denial or reduction of costs.”
Judge Kaplan dismissed as irrelevant Donziger’s claims about environmental pollution in Ecuador, and rejected Donziger’s arguments that Chevron committed fraud on the court, and he specifically rejected the notion that Chevron somehow was involved in perjury.
The Court reiterated that “there was abundant evidence … that Judge Guerra’s decision to cooperate with Chevron and, ultimately, to testify in this case would have exposed him and his family to serious risks to personal safety and security had they remained in Ecuador. His decision to testify effectively forced him to become an exile from his native country.” On this basis, the Court repeated its findings that Chevron’s payments to Guerra were reasonable and justified.
You can read more about the ruling against Donziger here:http://ift.tt/2FjV85F