Lago Agrio: Another Turncoat

Marcus Junius Brutus
Et tu, Calmbacher Reyes the Huaorani people Burford Capital Stratus Consulting Beltman Maest Bogart Patton Boggs DeLeon H5 Pablo Fajardo Grinberg Sullivan?
Credit: Marie-Lan Nguyen

Chevron has filed some voluminous papers in support of a new motion to hold Steven Donziger in contempt of court. I’m not going to write about the issue yet, because Donziger hasn’t responded and in light of all the redactions it’s hard to know whether there’s anything really interesting. But the metadata here tell a story. Chevron has filed, under seal, a declaration from Mary K. Sullivan in support of this motion. I believe this is the person I wrote about back in March:

In its motion, Chevron presents the affidavit of Lee Grinberg, of Elliott Management Corp., a New York hedge fund. He related the following story: a colleague, Jesse Cohen, told him on November 3, 2017, that he had been introduced by Jonathan Bush of athenahealth, Inc. to Katie Sullivan of Streamline Family Office, Inc. According to Bush, Streamline was “trying to help the successful plaintiffs in the Chevron Ecuador deal.” Grinberg arranged to meet Sullivan on November 6. Just before the meeting, Sullivan told Grinberg that Donziger would attend the meeting, and she asked him to sign a non-disclosure agreement to that Donziger could “speak freely.” Grinberg didn’t sign the NDA, but the meeting went together anyway. According to Grinberg, Donziger “informed [him] of his successful, ongoing efforts to raise millions of dollars from third-party investors to fund his efforts to enforce the judgment he had obtained against Chevron in Ecuador.” According to Grinberg, Donziger “inquired whether Elliott would provide him with funds for that purpose in exchange for an interest in proceeds that may result from enforcement of the Ecuadoran judgment.” Grinberg and Cohn were non-committal. Donziger later emailed Sullivan and Grinberg, offering to provide “a packet of materials that I generally send out to those doing due diligence on the opportunity.” But Elliott passed on the “opportunity.”

Since then, Chevron sought to take discovery from Sullivan. Her lawyer made various objections, but ultimately the court allowed the discovery to go forward, and I understand Sullivan testified at a deposition. Now it seems Chevron has done to her what it has done to others who were allied with Donziger or else too closely connected with him: “flipped” the witness. In 2018, we all know what that means. I presume, but don’t know, that in return for her cooperation Sullivan got Chevron’s agreement not to pursue claims against her. This is an example of the imbalance in litigation power that Donziger has described as a violation of his human rights. As I explained in the prior post, I don’t see how this can be a violation of his rights, but it is striking nonetheless.

2 responses to “Lago Agrio: Another Turncoat”

  1. Peter Lynn

    Having effectively nullified the Ecuadorian judgement against them, Chevrons continued pursuit of Donziger looks more like vengeance than meaningful litigation. Whether it is intended to warn others of the consequence of taking on big business or simply to avenge someone who has caused them problems, allowing Chevron to file endless motions at this stage is surely not the best use of court time.

    1. Maybe Chevron could make better use of its money, for sure. Remember, though, that the LAPs are still trying to enforce their judgment in Canada.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Thank you for commenting! By submitting a comment, you agree that we can retain your name, your email address, your IP address, and the text of your comment, in order to publish your name and comment on Letters Blogatory, to allow our antispam software to operate, and to ensure compliance with our rules against impersonating other commenters.