Chevron Seeks Summary Judgment

Oil barrels in EcuadorChevron has filed a motion for partial summary judgment in the RICO case against the Lago Agrio plaintiffs and their lawyers. In a nutshell, the claim in the case was that the defendants took part in the supposed corruption in Ecuador that led to Ecuador’s judgment against Chevron. Those of the defendants who appeared in the case have asserted claim and issue preclusion as defenses to Chevron’s claim, because the Ecuadoran courts have already rejected Chevron’s arguments about corruption.

Why bring this motion now? It seems to me that Chevron is taking another crack at a preemptive attack on the Ecuadoran judgment. In Naranjo, the Second Circuit held that a judgment debtor cannot preemptively seek a declaration that a judgment is not entitled to recognition or enforcement under the New York recognition and enforcement statute. Chevron seems to have gotten around the holding by raising its arguments in an action in which the Lago Agrio plaintiffs actually have sought recognition of the Ecuadoran judgment, though not enforcement. And as a bonus, Chevron gets to raise its argument before Judge Kaplan! Chevron’s brief gives a pretty good summary of its allegations of corruption in the Ecuadoran proceedings.

There were also a few other developments in the Lago Agrio case over the last few days:

  • The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights requested more information from the Lago Agrio plaintiffs about the effects of the pollution they say Chevron caused on the plaintiffs’ health. The plaintiffs’ response withdrew its request for protective measures (without prejudice) on the grounds that the Ecuadoran courts have made it clear that they will not give effect to an award of the BIT arbitral tribunal affecting the validity of the Ecuadoran judgment. So for the time being, the OAS proceedings are in abeyance.
  • The Ecuadoran appellate court issued a new decision rejecting Chevron’s request to revoke its earlier decision and reinforced its view that the BIT tribunal’s award will be unenforceable in Ecuador to the extent it would be contrary to Ecuador’s international human rights obligations. I do not believe a translation of the new decision is available as yet.

Photo credit: Julien Gomba (license)

About Ted Folkman

Ted Folkman is a shareholder with Murphy & King, a Boston law firm, where he has a complex business litigation practice. He is the author of International Judicial Assistance (MCLE 2d ed. 2016), a nuts-and-bolts guide to international judicial assistance issues, and of the chapter on service of process in the ABA's forthcoming treatise on International Aspects of US Litigation, and he is the publisher of Letters Blogatory, the Web's first blog devoted to international judicial assistance, which the ABA recognized as one of the best 100 legal blogs in 2012, 2014, and 2015.

3 thoughts on “Chevron Seeks Summary Judgment

  1. I just learned of an amusing role reversal. I’m always pestering the PR people for both Chevron and the plaintiffs to provide me with copies of letters, briefs, etc. that I can’t find online. Basically, I rely on them to point me towards things that are going on out of the public eye. But I didn’t know until today that they’re also relying on me! Here is a March 6 letter from Chevron’s lawyers to the IACHR indicating that they learned of a happening in the IACHR proceedings from one of my posts. Very interesting.

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