Lago Agrio: Chevron Seeks Summary Judgment Against Donziger

Joseph Stalin
If your middle name is “Stalin”, expect your opponents to use your full name at every opportunity.
Chevron, bouncing back from the Supreme Court’s denial of its petition for a writ of certiorari in the Naranjo case, has gone on the offensive and moved for summary judgment against the Lago Agrio plaintiffs’ lead American lawyer, Steven Donziger, on its claim under § 487 of the New York Judiciary Law. 1 The claim revolves around Chevron’s assertion that Donziger committed a fraud by lying to the courts about the neutrality of Richard Cabrera Vega (or as Chevron, no doubt correctly but also somewhat transparently) likes to call him, Richard Stalin Cabrera Vega. Donziger and the counsel he hired asserted that Cabrera was a neutral expert working for the court whose findings about environmental injury in the Lago Agrio region could be trusted, when in fact, according to Chevron, he was Donziger’s expert, bought and paid for. I’ve written about Cabrera a number of times before, and so I’m not going to reprise the story in full here.

It will be interesting to see how Donziger responds to this. In Chevron’s last effort to get summary judgment on its basic claim of fraud concerning the Cabrera report, the Lago Agrio plaintiffs decided—foolhardily, in my view—not to try to rebut Chevron’s evidentiary showing. They had a narrow escape when the judge found that even if Chevron’s evidence were accepted Chevron had not sufficiently shown the materiality of the fraud. It will be interesting to see whether Donziger takes the same approach now, or whether we will, for the first time, get a point-by-point rebuttal of the facts that Chevron says are not in dispute.

Photo credit: Wikipedia

Notes:

  1. Section 487 provides:

    An attorney or counselor who:

    1. Is guilty of any deceit or collusion, or consents to any deceit or collusion, with intent to deceive the court or any party; or,
    2. Wilfully delays his client’s suit with a view to his own gain; or, wilfully receives any money or allowance for or on account of any money which he has not laid out, or becomes answerable for,

    Is guilty of a misdemeanor, and in addition to the punishment prescribed therefor by the penal law, he forfeits to the party injured treble damages, to be recovered in a civil action.

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.

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