Chevron Slings Ghostwriting Accusations in Amazon Oil Spill Judgment
Often, when a ruling is reached, legal wrangling comes to an end. But for Chevron (NYSE:CVX), it has been just the opposite. Since Ecuadorian authorities issued a $18.2 billion judgement against the oil and gas producer in February of 2011 for illegally dumping waste products in the Amazon by Lago Agrio, only more problems have materialized.
A few months after the ruling, Chevron made an appeal to a federal judge in New York to block the plaintiffs from collecting their judgement. That injunction was ultimately thrown out. Next, attorneys began a series of legal proceedings to enforce the judgment in Canada, Argentina, and Brazil, where the company has sizable assets. Then accusations of ghostwriting joined the mix, with the most-recent claims being made on Monday.
In federal district court, Chevron filed a declaration of a former Ecuadorian judge, Alberto Guerra. The document, which was seen by CNN reporters, alleged that he and another former judge, Nicolás Zambrano, allowed the plaintiffs’ lawyers to ghostwrite the 188-page, $18.2 billion ruling in exchange for $500,000. While this is the first time either side has made bribery accusations, it is the second ghostwriting charge…
In July, U.S. District Judge Lewis Kaplan of Manhattan determined that the plaintiffs’ lawyers had “unquestionably” written a crucial report that was submitted under the name of Richard Cabrera, a court-appointed expert. However, the team of lawyers argued that the ghostwriting was made irrelevant by Zambrano’s ultimate ruling, in which he claimed to have relied upon other evidence to come to his decision.
Now, Chevron is alleging that the entirety of his judgement was ghostwritten by the plaintiffs’ lawyers. According to the court filing, Chevron noticed that portions of the plaintiffs’ internal notes that had never been introduced in court had been copied verbatim into the text of the ruling. In the documents submitted to the court on Monday, the company has attempted to substantiate the second accusation and tag on claims of bribery as well.
But the new accusations may not stand. According to CNN, Guerra has said that he was not compensated for his testimony, but he has also admitted that Chevron paid $38,000 for the physical evidence he submitted. The Lago Agrio plaintiffs spokesperson Karen Hinton said in a press release that his information was false and tainted by the payments.
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