Chevron Ecuador: the latest news has the U.S. Chamber of Commerce blasting Steve Donziger and the so-called Amazon Defense Coalition for what many are starting to call “tort tourism,” or the practice of American lawyers traveling the World in search of situations in other countries where they think they can land a big lawsuit payday.
According to The Oregon Business Report…
U.S. Chamber President and CEO, Tom Donohue lets us know about “tort tourism,” lawyers traveling the globe in search of sympathetic courts where they can sue companies for big paydays and then try to convince American courts to uphold those rulings. He uses the example of Chevron under legal assault in Ecuador:
In 2003, Chevron Corporation was sued in Ecuador for environmental damage allegedly caused by Texaco’s oil operations a decade earlier, even though Texaco — which Chevron acquired in 2001 — had ceased operations in Ecuador in 1992 and had settled any outstanding claims for environmental cleanup with the Ecuadorian government in 1994.
Nevertheless, in February 2011, an Ecuadorian judge ordered Chevron to pay $8.6 billion in damages. Incredibly, the judge increased that amount to $18.6 billion because the company refused to publicly apologize within 15 days of the judgment. It is the largest award ever by a foreign court against an American company.
Chevron has no assets in Ecuador, so the plaintiffs’ lawyers engaged in some tort tourism. They devised a plan to collect the judgment wherever Chevron did business.
First stop — the United States. Chevron, with ample evidence that the Ecuadorian judgment had clearly been procured by fraud, won an injunction from a federal court in New York that would have, among other things, prevented collection of judgment in the United States. That injunction was overturned by a higher court. The case is now before the Supreme Court.
And as I’ve said before, in fact, a few years ago, Steven Donziger has been out to make himself a billionaire from the start: