Legitimacy of Ecuadorian Judgment Not Affected
Amazon Defense Coalition
1 May 2013 - FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Karen Hinton at +1.703.798.3109
A provincial judge in Canada today ruled that although there was appropriate jurisdiction there for a suit to attach Chevron's assets in Canada to satisfy a $19 billion court judgment against the oil giant in Ecuador, he would stay the case because it was unclear that Chevron's had assets there that could be attached.
In what seemed to be a decision aimed more at avoiding what might have become a complicated and lengthy item on the Ontario court's docket than a definitive judgment, Judge D.M. Brown said since it wasn't clear that the assets held by subsidiaries of Chevron could be attached under Canadian law, and so he would not let the attachment process start.
The lawyer for the Ecuadorians said they would appeal. The case stems from a $19 billion judgment awarded in 2011 to indigenous residents of Ecuador's Amazon region after nearly two decades of litigation seeking remediation, health care and damages from the oil company that dumped billions of gallons of toxic chemicals and oil into the soil and water of their community.
Alan Lenczner, principal lawyer in Toronto for the Ecuadorians, said:
"The plaintiffs will definitely be appealing. It cannot be right that a multinational company that operates entirely through subsidiaries is immune from the enforcement of a judgment in Canada, particularly where the subsidiary is 100% owned and provides some of the billions of dollars that Chevron pays out in dividends each year and even more billions in share buy backs. Chevron Corp itself earns no money. All its earnings and profits come from subsidiaries including, importantly, Chevron Canada."
Pablo Fajardo, principal lawyer for the plaintiffs in Ecuador, said:
"Chevron is trying to hide behind its corporate structure to avoid it responsibility to clean up the mess it left behind in Ecuador. We strongly disagree with the Motions Judge in Canada who we feel went beyond his authority in staying our action based not on the merits of our legitimate judgment but, at least in part, on avoiding protracted litigation. But we don't fear a fight with Chevron and we won't ever back down.
"The judge respected our judgment in the courts of Ecuador, while declining to go forward. In the meantime, Chevron and its subsidiaries have assets in more than 100 countries around the world and one (Argentina) already has frozen assets against a subsidiary, so that country disagrees with this order. There is also the U.S. for down the road where the parent can be sued directly. This is a minor setback that we hope will be corrected on review."