Chevron in Ecuador

The archive of the Clean Up Ecuador campaign website

Key Documents & Court Filings from Aguinda Legal Team

Amazon Defense Coalition
April - July 2011

On February 14th, a court in Lago Agrio, Ecuador ruled in favor of the residents of the Amazonian rainforest who have spent the last 18 years trying to force Chevron executives to clean up their deadly mess.

Finally, Chevron's guilt is official, and it's time for Chevron's Board of Directors and high-level officials to take responsibility for their company's unethical and illegal misconduct.

Instead, Chevron is fighting the plaintiffs in U.S. Courts across the country and has filed criminal charges against the Ecuadorian plaintiffs.

Below are some essential documents for understanding this decision and the current status of the case.

Key Documents from Ecuadorian Trial

(Part of Trial Record in Superior Court of Nueva Loja, Lago Agrio Ecuador)

Judgement Issued on January 3rd, 2012 by the Appellate Panel in Ecuador Confirming the Aguinda v. ChevronTexaco Decision and Subsequent Clarification Ruling

Judgment Issued on February 14, 2011 by the Ecuadorian Superior Court of Nueva Loja, Aguinda v. ChevronTexaco, No.2003-0002, Ruling in Favor of the Ecuadorians

Summary of Judgment & Order of Superior Court of Nueva Loja, Aguinda v. ChevronTexaco, No. 2003-0002, February 14, 2011 and Excerpts from Judgment & Order of Superior Court of Nueva Loja

Summary document prepared by plaintiffs' U.S. counsel detailing judicial order finding Chevron liable for environmental contamination from the oil extraction operations of Chevron's predecessor company, Texaco, and ordering the company to pay damages of approximately $9.5 billion, with potential punitive damages of an additional $9.5 billion.

"Summary of Part One of Plaintiffs' Alegato Final (Final Argument) in Environmental Disaster Litigation Against Chevron," January 18, 2011

Plaintiffs' Alegato (Final Argument) Part One. Final argument of Aguinda plaintiffs offered to provide background information on the overwhelming amount of scientific evidence filed on the record during trial.

Plaintiffs' Alegato (Final Argument), Part Two

Final argument of Aguinda plaintiffs to provide background information on the arguments for appropriate damages stemming from Chevron's oil extraction operations in Ecuador.

Key Documents Filed in Various U.S. Litigations

Daniel Carlos Lusitant Yaiguaje, et. al. v. Chevron Corp., et. al.

Discovery Motion for the Mason Investigative Group, Wayne Hansen, and Diego Borja, September 1, 2011

Ecuadorians' motion in the Northern District Court of California to depose and obtain discovery from the Mason Investigative Group, hired by Chevron to locate Chevron operative Wayne Hansen who disappeared from the United States shortly after the Republic of Ecuador subpoenaed him in California. The motion also seeks discovery from Diego Borja, a Chevron contractor and Hansen's partner in a sting operation against an Ecuadorian judge in an attempt by Chevron to derail the trial in Ecuador.

Republic of Ecuador, et. al. v. Chevron Corp., et. al

"Brief for Plaintiffs-Appellants," Republic of Ecuador, et al. v. Chevron Corp., et. al., Nos. 10-1020-cv (L) 10-1026 (Con), – F.3d – , 2011 WL 905118, (2d Cir. Mar. 17, 2011)

Lago Agrio plaintiffs' legal brief arguing that Chevron should be enjoined from participating in an arbitration under the Bilateral Investment Treaty (BIT) in which Chevron is asking the arbitrational tribunal to direct the Republic of Ecuador to order its courts to make a finding of "no liability" for Chevron in the Aguinda litigation.

Republic of Ecuador, et al. v. Chevron Corp., et. al., Nos. 10-1020-cv (L) 10-1026 (Con), – F.3d – , 2011 WL 905118, (2d Cir. Mar. 17, 2011)

Order of 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals finding that Chevron's promises did not prohibit it from engaging in the BIT arbitration, but explicitly stating that the Aguinda plaintiffs are not bound by the findings of the BIT tribunal and that "[the plaintiffs'] dispute with Chevron therefore cannot be settled through BIT arbitration." The 2nd Circuit also found that (1) Chevron is responsible for promises made by Texaco to satisfy any judgment issued in Ecuador subject only to limited defenses and (2) Chevron's argument that the Aguinda litigation in Ecuador is not the refiled claim originally filed in the U.S. in 1993 is "without merit."

Chevron Corp. v. Ecuadorians and Steven Donziger

Second Circuit Court of Appeals Dismisses Lower Court Injunction to Block Enforcement of $18 Billion Judgment.

On January 26, 2012, a three-judge panel of the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that Judge Kaplan previously overstepped his authority when he tried to ban enforcement around the world of an $18 billion judgment against Chevron Inc. for environmental damage in Ecuador

Ecuadorians' Discovery Request Finds Over 500 Lawyers Working for Chevron on Oil Contamination Lawsuit.

As part of the Ecuadorians' discovery requests to prepare for the U.S. hearing on the enforceability of the $18 billion Ecuadorian judgment, Chevron produced a declaration listing all of its attorneys working on the oil contamination lawsuit. Over 500 names of attorneys appear, and the declaration does not include non-U.S. attorneys. The hearing has been stayed, pending a final ruling from the Second Circuit Court of Appeals, which recently vacated a lower court's preliminary injunction order purporting to prohibit the Ecuadorians from enforcing the judgment.

Ecuadorians' Reply to Chevron's Opposition for Judgment on Pleadings.

The Ecuadorians argue that Chevron's legal assault on them should be dismissed because under the New York Recognition Act, the basis of the lawsuit, no action can be taken until a final judgment is issued in a foreign proceeding against an American company. The $18 billion judgment against Chevron is on appeal in an Ecuadorian court.

Expert Report By Professor Joseph Staats On Ecuador's Court System.

An expert report from Professor Joseph Staats conclusively demonstrates that Ecuador's judicial independence ranks in the top third of judicial systems in Latin America and ranks equal to or better than 55% of the entire world, undermining Chevron’s recent attacks on the judiciary of Ecuador.

New York Appeals Court Grants Argument Over Recusal of Judge Lewis A. Kaplan.

The Second Circuit Court of Appeals has granted argument over a request that Judge Lewis A. Kaplan be recused for his handling of a case filed by Chevron to try to obstruct the enforcement of an $18 billion judgment against the oil giant in Ecuador. The Writ of Mandamus seeking Kaplan's recusal, filed by two Ecuadorian plaintiffs, is here. Argument is scheduled for the week of September 12 in Manhattan.

Amicus Brief by the Environmental Defender Law Center.

The Environmental Defender Law Center argues that Judge Kaplan's purported worldwide injunction blocking enforcement of the Ecuador judgment is an "exercise of power that district courts do not possess."

Amicus Brief by EarthRights International.

EarthRights warns that Judge Kaplan's "perverse approach" creates a "recipe for gamesmanship and legal quagmires" that would encourage any corporation accused of causing harm abroad to manipulate the U.S. legal system to avoid liability.

Emergency Stay Filed with the 2nd Circuit.

The Ecuadorian citizens who recently won an $18 billion judgment against Chevron filed an emergency motion with the Court of Appeals in New York to stay the trial proceedings of Judge Lewis A. Kaplan.

Amicus brief by Burt Neuborne, Legal Director of the Brennan Center for Justice at NYU Law School.

Neuborne argues that Kaplan has erred by granting Chevron a "worldwide District Court injunction .... that (1) heaps scorn on the Ecuadorian judiciary on the basis of an unfairly truncated record and in the absence of a representative of the Republic of Ecuador; (2) proceeds in the absence a representative of the indigenous peoples of Ecuador who have suffered the alleged underlying environmental injury and who will be the beneficiaries of any Ecuadorian judgment; and (3) seeks to pre-empt the ability of judges everywhere else in the world to decide for themselves whether to respect and enforce the final judgment, if any, of the Ecuadorian courts."

Amicus brief by the Republic of Ecuador.

The Republic of Ecuador's brief demands the country "be afforded international respect just as the United States has an interest in having judgments of its courts respected abroad, including in Ecuador. Indeed, Judge Kaplan's gratuitous belittlement of the Republic's judicial system is a wholesale condemnation of the judicial systems of the entire Latin American region." The ROE states: "...the undisguised castigation of, and lack of respect afforded, the Ecuadorian justice system by the District Court runs counter not only to long-established jurisprudential norms, but contrasts greatly with the Third Circuit's recent admonition: 'Though it is obvious that the Ecuadorian judicial system is different from that in the United States, those differences provide no basis for disregarding or disparaging that system. American courts, though justifiably proud of our system, understand that other countries may organize their judicial systems as they see fit.'"

Amicus brief by 16 renowned international legal experts.

These legal experts cited five reasons to dismiss Kaplan's preliminary injunction. The preliminary injunction order: 1) "violates the ancient customary international law principle of non-intervention ... by illegally intruding into Ecuador's external domestic affairs by, in essence, prohibiting any other state from independently ruling on the issue of recognition and enforcement of the Ecuadorian judgment against Chevron." 2) is prohibited by the "customary international law limitation of reasonableness because the defendants in this case lack any internationally legally significant contact with the United States." 3) is a "futile order" because it cannot stop "Ecuadorian defendants from seeking to enforce the judgment outside the United States ... and cannot compel any other state from assuming jurisdiction and deciding for itself the issues of recognition and enforcement." 4) "offends basic standards of international comity because the preliminary injunction high handedly purports to stake out exclusive world-wide jurisdiction." 5) is premature given that "the exhaustion of local remedies by Chevron in Ecuador is required by international law. Because the judgment in Ecuador is not final, the District Court should not have accepted jurisdiction."

Amicus brief by the Environmental Defender Law Center, a non-profit that provides free legal representation for poor people in developing countries.

The Center wrote that the district court's world-wide preliminary injunction barring foreign plaintiffs from enforcing a non-U.S. judgment in any non-U.S. court is an "exercise of power that district courts do not possess." Kaplan's preliminary injuction is "of unprecedented scope.... Given this Court's severe limits on anti-suit injunctions, it is not a New York court's proper role to prevent Ecuadorian citizens with little if any connection to the U.S. from trying to enforce an Ecuadorian judgment anywhere in the world."

A Motion before Judge Kaplan to Participate in His November "Show" Trial.

This motion to intervene asks Judge Kaplan for the third time to let the Ecuadorians' attorney Steven Donziger fully participate in the November trial on the enforceability of the $18 billion judgment. The motion argues that Chevron now seeks, with Judge Kaplan's tacit approval, a "do over" of the trial they lost in Ecuador and seeks to make Donziger the principal focus of their trial where, due to Judge Kaplan's decisions, he has no right to defend himself.

A Motion for Continuance before Judge Kaplan.

This motion for continuance systematically demonstrates how Judge Kaplan's expedited schedule for the trial is not only "unfair to the Ecuadorian plaintiffs but would also not be consistent with procedures compatible with due process." The motion asks Judge Kaplan to continue the trial so that the Ecuadorian plaintiffs will have a reasonable amount of time to prepare a proper defense to Chevron's baseless allegations.

A Motion before Judge Kaplan to Stay Discovery for His November Trial.

After Chevron's lawyers repeatedly promised that the discovery for the trial would be minimal, as a way to induce and expedite a trial, the company is abusing discovery and document requests.

A Writ of Mandamus before the 2nd Circuit to Remove Judge Kaplan from the Case.

The brief outlines in stunning and chilling details Judge Kaplan's inappropriate behavior from the bench and deep-seated antagonism toward the Ecuadorian indigenous plaintiffs and their counsel.

A Substantive Brief before the 2nd Circuit to Reverse Judge Kaplan's Preliminary Injunction.

It explains why Judge Kaplan's preliminary injunction has no proper legal basis and should be overturned. The brief argues that Judge Kaplan's attempts to try Ecuador's entire judicial system has no precedent and is a completely inappropriate exercise of judicial power that needs to be stayed.

A Separate Appeal from the Ecuadorians' Long-time U.S. Counsel, Steven Donziger.

It explains how Judge Kaplan has orchestrated proceedings to deny him the ability to put in evidence and otherwise voice his argument. The Donziger brief was submitted by Lawyer John Keker, one of the nation's foremost defense lawyer, who is based in San Francisco.

Third Circuit Court of Appeals Overturns Chevron's Effort To Seek Discovery, May 25, 2011

By overturning a trial court decision allowing Chevron to take discovery from Philadelphia lawyer Joseph Kohn, who represented the Ecuadorians for several years, the appeals court ruled that the attorney-client privilege of the Ecuadorians was NOT waived by allowing a film director to shoot meetings involving lawyers and their clients.

Letter from attorney John Keker to U.S. Judge Lewis Kaplan on Chevron's unclean hands, April 6, 2011

Attorney John Keker, representing plaintiffs' attorney Steven Donziger, argues Chevron cannot block efforts by the Ecuadorians to seeking discovery about Chevron’s misconduct in Ecuador.

"Memorandum of Law ... in Opposition to Chevron's Motion for Preliminary Injunction," Chevron Corp. v. Steven Donziger, et. al., No. 11 CV 0691, February 26, 2011

Memorandum illustrating the uncertain legal basis of Chevron's efforts to utilize U.S. courts to block attempts to enforce the Ecuador judgment. Not considered by Judge Kaplan during issuance of Preliminary Injunction.

"Memorandum of Law ... in Opposition to Chevron's Motion for Preliminary Injunction," Chevron Corp. v. Steven Donziger, et. al., No. 11 CV 0691, February 26, 2011

Memorandum illustrating the uncertain legal basis of Chevron's efforts to utilize U.S. courts to block attempts to enforce the Ecuador judgment. Not considered by Judge Kaplan during issuance of Preliminary Injunction.

Declaration of Juan Pablo Saenz," Chevron v. Donziger, February 28, 2011

Declaration of Juan Pablo Saenz, Ecuadorian attorney for the plaintiffs, describing Chevron's bad faith and corruption throughout the Aguinda litigation. Not considered by Judge Kaplan during issuance of Preliminary Injunction.

"Steven Donziger's Application for Transfer of Case..." Chevron v. Donziger, February 28, 2011

Application to transfer the RICO lawsuit to a random judge assigned by the S.D.N.Y. and away from Judge Lewis A. Kaplan. The application demonstrates that Chevron improperly steered the lawsuit to Judge Kaplan because it perceived Judge Kaplan to be sympathetic to their case based on multiple statements made by the Judge disparaging the Ecuadorian judiciary, the Lago Agrio plaintiffs and their attorneys.

"Memorandum of Law ... in Opposition to Plaintiff Chevron Corporation's Motion to Bifurcate..." Chevron v. Donziger, March 21, 2011

Steven Donziger's memorandum of law demonstrating that Chevron's attempt to bifurcate out just one of its claims for a trial without a jury would violate Donziger's constitutional rights.

"Memorandum of Law ... in Opposition to Chevron Corporation's Application to Show Cause Why The Declaratory Judgment Claim Should Not be Bifurcated..." Chevron v. Donziger, March 21, 2011

Memorandum filed by the Lago Agrio plaintiffs demonstrating that Chevron's own bad acts and "unclean hands" prevent the company from being eligible for the bifurcation relief it is seeking.

Chevron Corp. v. Stratus Consulting, Inc.

"Ecuadorian Plaintiffs Memorandum of Law in Opposition to Chevron's Motion to Compel," Chevron Corp. v. Stratus Consulting, Inc. et al., 1:10-cv-00047, September 28, 2010

Plaintiffs' memorandum of law providing background information answering Chevron's claims of fraud, and demonstrating that the full trial account of Chevron's allegations of fraud – including all of Chevron's "evidence" – was before the Ecuadorian court hearing the Aguinda case.