Ecuador Internacional

Chevron, Donziger to Face Off Over $9.5 Billion Judgment

The Wall Street Journal 20/04/2015

Chevron Corp. will go head-to-head in an appeals court Monday with the lawyer who has tried for years to get the oil giant to pay a $9.5 billion environmental-damage award, the latest development in one of the longest-running legal battles in corporate history.

At issue on Monday: a ruling made by U.S. District Judge Lewis Kaplan, who found last year that the multibillion-dollar award New York lawyer Steven Donziger won against Chevron in Ecuador was tainted by bribery and other corrupt misconduct. In a major victory for Chevron, Judge Kaplan ruled that Mr. Donziger and his team couldn’t profit from the award anywhere in the world or try to enforce it in the U.S.

Mr. Donziger has denied the allegations of wrongdoing.

Legal experts say the outcome of the appeal could clarify the scope of the federal anti-racketeering law Chevron used to sue Mr. Donziger.

In the past, the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act, or RICO, has more typically been invoked to bring down mafia bosses and gang leaders in criminal cases. One of the central issues on appeal is whether private parties such as Chevron can use RICO to obtain remedies other than monetary damages—such as the judicial order from Judge Kaplan.

“The appeal will help redefine the use of the RICO statute,” said Manuel Gomez, an associate professor at the Florida International University College of Law who has followed the case. “It’s being used as a tool to achieve something that was not the original purpose of the statute.”

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