As the flurry of lawsuits flies between a number of parties involved in the Chevron Ecuador mess, it’s just a matter of time before one of the, by last personal count six, law firms involved in it start to get testy about blog posts. Presenting the legendary Philadelphia law firm of Kohn, Swift & Graf.
One of the lawyer firms representing Kohn, Swift & Graf, or KSG, in the Chevron Ecuador case, sent an email in response to my blog post entitled: Kohn, Swift & Graf, Money Givers To Steven Donziger, Pulled Into Chevron Ecuador Case.
Now, the blog post made no disparaging comments about KSG, so a response from anyone associated with the Super-Lawyer firm comes as a bit of a surprise – a welcome one. The email sent opens a whole new “can of worms,” and it’s only correct that the transmission be shown.
(As a note, sender of the footer at the end of the email violated their own “confidential” message, first by using the term “may,” second by send it to more than one person, and third, by providing valuable information that helps unravel the story of how KSG and Steven Donziger were related. On that note, this Chicago Tribune blog post I linked to is particularly instructive. The email was sent to a blogger, this one, hot on the case, and it contains valuable information, such that I must disagree with the implied contract presented, state that I refuse to sign it, and publish the email for public view, but without the person’s name or firm they represent.
Dear Mr. Abraham,
Our firm represents Kohn, Swift & Graf and Joseph C. Kohn (collectively, “KSG”). I write to correct two misstatements in your August 6, 2011 posting in the City Brights section of the SFGate.
First, Steven Donziger never “worked for” KSG. He was at all times an independent attorney operating out of his own firm.
Second, KSG did not take the take the case of the Ecuadorian Plaintiffs “looking for a big payday.” The Ecuadorian Plaintiffs suffered and continue to suffer from the ruinous devastation of their homeland. KSG reasonably believed that Texaco and later Chevron were the parties responsible for this human rights disaster, and KSG supported the litigation against them to vindicate the plaintiffs’ rights. That KSG sought a contingent fee for this effort is neither remarkable nor unethical as your article seems to imply.
Finally, I want to direct your attention to two significant findings from Magistrate Judge James Francis of the Southern District of New York. After being presented with all of Chevron’s evidence that KSG purportedly knew of and/or participated in the alleged wrongdoing in Ecuador, he concluded as follows: (1) there was “no evidence of criminal or fraudulent intent” by KSG and (2) there was no knowledge by KSG of purported wrongdoing during the Lago Agrio Litigation. Chevron Corp. v. Aguinda Salazar, No. 11-cv-3718, Doc. 180 at 8-9, 35 n. 11 (S.D.N.Y. Aug. 3, 2011).
In light of the above, I demand that if you report further on the matters regarding KSG, you appropriately portray the facts regarding KSG’s representation. I also demand that you print an appropriate correction of your August 6 posting.
Very truly yours,
Name Withheld By Zennie
My emailed response was this:
Since your email only brings up more questions, I have added it as an “update.” You have provided enough information to actually help the original blog post, not render it in need of a correction.
Moreover, I don’t blog to imply, I make direct statements. I did not intend to make a statement in the negative about KSG. Mr. Cohn apparently believed his association with Mr. Donziger was appropriate enough to publicly comment on it himself.
Please answer my questions.
My questions, ranging from, in Google parlance, “volcanic” to “mild” in intensity:
1) Your statement: “That KSG sought a contingent fee for this effort is neither remarkable nor unethical as your article seems to imply..” points to why KSG “sought a contingent fee for this effort”?
2) Moreover, how much – or what percentage of the Chevron damage award – was the fee?
3) In Forbes Blog by Daniel Fisher, he writes “In that ruling was this tidbit: Kohn Swift, which sank more than $6 million into the case over the years before breaking with onetime lead attorney Steven Donziger, has hired outside counsel, possibly to sue Donziger. The outside firm is none other than Susman Godfrey, a Houston boutique with a well-founded reputation for tough litigation tactics.” See: http://blogs.forbes.com/danielfisher/2011/08/08/judge-tosses-patton-boggs-suit-over-unpaid-ecuador-bills/
Do you deny this, and if so, why? Have you contacted Mr. Fisher for a “correction.”
Thanks, and again, thanks.
Let’s see what comes of this, in the form of an answer from KSG or its representing law firms.