Steve Donziger, the lead plaintiff lawyer in a fraudulent lawsuit pitting Chevron against Ecuador, managed to really piss off U.S. Southern District Of New York Judge Lewis Kaplan on April 26, 2011. That action, arguably, led to this week’s news that the same Kaplan upheld Chevron’s RICO lawsuit against Donziger, and also came very close to attaching Steven’s assets to the complaint.
It was, on April 26, 2011, then that the seemingly pugilistic Donziger tried to remove Kaplan from presiding over the Chevron Oil Company’s RICO (for racketeering, fraud, conspiracy) lawsuit against Steven and his team of lawyers and activists, and because Donziger believed Kaplan was prejudiced against him. This was in response to Kaplan’s order preventing Donziger Ecuador from trying to collect even one cent of the $18 billion judgment ruled against Chevron in an Ecuador court, anywhere in the World.
Donziger, seeing his dream of becoming a billionaire go up in smoke, hit the ceiling, claiming that Kaplan came to “prejudicial and untenable conclusions.” They also accused Judge Kaplan of losing “all semblance of impartiality.”
What upset Judge Kaplan was the finding of evidence of fraud, including videos of Steven explaining how he planned to make up facts to win a judgement against the American oil company. Those videos were part of a giant haul of information that took place after Judge Kaplan gave Chevron the ability to depose Donziger in October of 2010. This video, released April 22, 2012, is a great assembly of Donziger’s many talks of how he was working to fake a believable lawsuit to “make fucking money” from Chevron:
On May 13th 2011, Kaplan got the chance to trash the motion Donziger and team fired off to have Kaplan removed. But everyone knows you don’t piss off a judge when there’s a good chance the same person is able to come back and rule on his own fate. Stupid. Kaplan assured his own ability to stick around and eventually punk Steven Donziger. That was done this week.
Chevron Corp. v. Donziger
On Monday, May 14th, 2012, Judge Kaplan filed a seven-page “memorandum and order” that essentially denied Chevron’s request to collect $780 million from Steven. This is the second time such a motion was rejected, and mainly because Kaplan believed there was no realistic way Chevron was going to collect such a large amount from one person, especially since that person, Steve’s, wealth was depended on a judgement that Kaplan had blocked him from trying to collect even a portion of. This is where Kaplan could have been a real dick and really let Steve have it; instead Kaplan worked professionally within the argumentative bounds of the case, and rejected Chevron’s request.
I don’t think Chevron was trying to really get $780 million from Steve, but send a message to him and to anyone else that they were serious in fighting back – Chevron’s lawyers had to know that request was going to fall flat, and it did. If Chevron’s lawyers did make the request to head-off any win of monies by the plaintiff, the idea was wrongheaded.
The second decision Kaplan made was to allow the RICO ruling itself to continue, but absent the ability to recover any anticipated money Chevron think Donziger and plaintiffs may gain, mainly because Kaplan is certain they will not, saying that any kind of idea of that sort is “premature.”
See Kaplan’s ruling: http://www.nysd.uscourts.gov/cases/show.php?db=special&id=172