4 May 2015 - FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Karen Hinton at +1.703.798.3109
New York, NY – A London-based funder of the historic environmental lawsuit brought by Ecuadorian villagers against Chevron admitted repeatedly in recent weeks that it was planning to sign a false confession required by the oil giant as a condition of withdrawing an increasingly contentious lawsuit in Gibraltar, according to a statement by Steven Donziger, the U.S. legal advisor to the villagers.
Woodsford Litigation Funding, a private London-based company, had been sued by Chevron in Gibraltar after investing roughly $2.5 million on the winning side in 2013. Woodsford and Chevron announced a settlement of that lawsuit today where no money exchanged hands.
As part of the settlement, Woodsford was relieved of the enormous expense of the lawsuit while Chevron avoided some potentially embarrassing discovery revelations related to falsification of evidence by a corrupt witness paid $2 million by the company. For background on how the settlement reflects Chevron's weakening litigation position, see this press release issued April 19 by Hinton Communications.
The settlement also comes at a time when explosive new forensic evidence demonstrates that Chevron's main defense in the case is based on falsified evidence offered by a corrupt witness. See this article from Courthouse News on the expert report of J. Christopher Racich.
Chevron had planned to announce the settlement two weeks ago on the morning of a critical appellate argument in New York. The company canceled that plan when it was exposed the night before in a press release by representatives of the affected communities in Ecuador.
Steven Donziger, for two decades a legal advisor to the affected communities who won a $9.5 billion environmental judgment against Chevron, issued this statement in response to the Woodsford-Chevron settlement:
"Today's announcement of the Woodsford-Chevron settlement is old news. Woodsford's chief executive informed representatives for the Ecuadorian communities weeks ago that a settlement was in the works because of Chevron's fear of discovery of critical internal documents related to a corrupt witness and Woodford's exorbitant litigation expenses associated with Chevron's lawsuit. He told us that as a condition of settlement Woodsford would be forced to sign a false “confession" required by Chevron in support of the company's self-described demonization campaign targeting myself and other lawyers for the villagers who won a $9.5 billion environmental award against the company. The same chief executive, Charles Manduca, also assured our team privately on repeated occasions that he despised Chevron's tactics, believed Judge Kaplan's decision was fatally flawed and the result of a one-sided trial, and that he believed fervently both in the validity of the Ecuadorian judgment and in the integrity of those lawyers who obtained it. I do not accept Judge Kaplan's findings and categorically reject his determination that I engaged in wrongdoing in Ecuador, as my appellate briefs in that case make clear.
Rather than clean up its massive contamination in Ecuador, Chevron continues to pursue a strategy of trying to intimidate supporters of the affected communities by launching retaliatory lawsuits. Given that Woodsford has not funded the litigation against Chevron for two years, the settlement will have no material impact on ongoing efforts by the affected communities to seize Chevron assets in Brazil and Canada to force the company to comply with a judgment that has been unanimously affirmed by Ecuador's Supreme Court in the company's chosen forum."
Here is a release with more information about the impending Woodsford-Chevron settlement that provides necessary background on the company's weakening litigation position.