Chevron in Ecuador

The archive of the Clean Up Ecuador campaign website

U.S. Supreme Court Makes "Grave Mistake" in Refusing To Hear Chevron $12 Billion Pollution Liability in Ecuador

Next Hearing in Canada To Seize Chevron Assets Scheduled for October 10th in Ontario Court of Appeals

Amazon Defense Coalition (ADC)
Contact: Karen Hinton at +1.703.798.3109

Washington, DC – Ecuadorian indigenous villagers and their lawyer today said the U.S. Supreme Court made a "grave mistake" in refusing to hear evidence that Chevron committed a massive fraud to evade paying a $12 billion Ecuador pollution judgment.

The villagers, however, vowed to collect their judgment in Canada where that country's Supreme Court already has denied a Chevron attempt to block an enforcement action. The next hearing on the claim by the villagers to seize Chevron assets is scheduled for October 10 in Toronto before the Ontario Court of Appeals.

The original judgment against Chevron, for $9.5 billion with damages and costs, has since risen to roughly $12 billion given statutory interest in Canada. A new report documenting Chevron's fraud, How U.S. Courts Got It Wrong In Chevron's Amazon Pollution Case, can be read here. A summary of the report is in this press release.

Statements in response to the decision are below.

Statement from the Amazon Defense Coalition, the grass roots organization in Ecuador's Amazon region representing the 80 indigenous and farmer communities who brought the environmental claims against Chevron:

"It is way too early for Chevron to celebrate. Ultimately, Chevron will be forced by other jurisdictions to pay every last dollar of the judgment imposed on it for is criminal behavior in Ecuador. We are disappointed but not surprised that U.S. courts once again have refused to deal with the pollution problem in Ecuador caused by a U.S. company. In our view, the refusal of the Supreme Court to hear the case is a nothing more than a crass hometown decision in favor of the home team made by biased referees who could care less about the harm caused to indigenous persons in the developing world by Chevron's irresponsible oil extraction. Like many people and countries in Latin America, we are washing our hands of U.S. courts in terms of any hope of achieving environmental justice. Chevron will not we be held accountable elsewhere.

Statement from Steven R. Donziger, the longtime lawyer for the Ecuadorian villagers who is the primary target of Chevron's campaign to evade paying the Ecuador judgment:

The refusal by the Supreme Court to address the fact Chevron fabricated evidence to cover up its massive pollution in Ecuador is a grave mistake and a sad reflection on the U.S. judiciary in the eyes of the world. That said, Chevron will be held accountable in Canada where courts have agreed to consider the overwhelming evidence Chevron bribed a witness and manufactured evidence to evade paying the Ecuador pollution judgment.

More broadly, the Supreme Court has missed the last chance for U.S. courts to salvage their international reputation when it comes to their disgraceful conduct related to the Ecuadorian villagers' fight for justice. We must remember that it was U.S. courts that insisted in 2002 that the Ecuadorians' claims should be heard in Ecuador, and paved the way for a trial there by demanding that Chevron submit to the jurisdiction of Ecuadorian courts and abide by any judgment. Sadly, the shred of justice in that 2002 decision turns out to have been a fraud. When Chevron lost the trial in Ecuador and came running back to U.S. courts for protection, U.S. courts gave Chevron everything the company asked for – upsetting countless principles of jurisprudence in the process and even turning a blind eye to Chevron's admitted payments to fact witnesses and other criminal misconduct.

We remain confident that Chevron will be held accountable both for its original environmental crimes and for its long run from justice in refusing to pay the judgment of the Ecuadorian courts. Chevron ran to U.S. courts for protection from enforcement jurisdictions for a reason: those jurisdictions will not give Chevron the same extraordinary preferential treatment that U.S. courts, sadly and unjustly, afforded. The Supreme Court's decision closes a chapter and will allow the global public to properly focus on the true substance of the case, which is an international judgment enforcement process – in which U.S. courts have no role – and the devastating environmental and human tragedy that both Chevron and the global community need to address.