19 June 2017 - FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Karen Hinton at +1.703.798.3109
Today's decision by the United States Supreme Court not to hear the appeal of Chevron's retaliatory legal attack on the Ecuadorian victims of Chevron's pollution in the Amazon and attorneys who represented them is disappointing but not surprising. The U.S. court system has once again been misused by the company in its attempts to escape paying to cleanup the sixteen billion gallons of toxic waste it deliberately dumped in the Ecuadorian Amazon. Chevron's attempts to elude justice have included violating federal law by bribing a witness and employing intimidation tactics against the environmental and human rights community.
The refusal by SCOTUS to consider the appeal completely ignores recently-revealed evidence that Chevron's legal attack was based on fraud. Its star witness, disgraced former Ecuadorian judge Alberto Guerra, admitted under oath to making up allegations of misconduct by the plaintiffs' lawyers, including claims that the final judgment against Chevron for $9.5 billion had been ghostwritten. Additionally, it has been discovered that Chevron has paid Guerra up to $2 million in compensation for his false testimony, for which Guerra could face perjury and other criminal charges. Moreover, a forensic report, ignored by the Second Circuit Court of Appeals, further debunked Guerra's claim that the verdict was ghostwritten.
SCOTUS' failure to review the case in the face of this new evidence is a grave miscarriage of justice, and it has chilling ramifications for similar environmental justice and human rights cases. Among those is the likelihood that corporations will be inspired to pursue many more retaliatory suits against human rights and environmental groups for speaking out against abuses.
Amazon Watch has witnessed firsthand the environmental destruction left behind in Ecuador by Chevron and the loss of life caused by its contamination in the country over decades. While operating as Texaco, the company admits that it deliberately discharged billions of gallons of drilling wastewater into the Amazon rainforest. Yet Chevron has never once apologized, nor has it provided assistance to the families attempting to survive with poisoned land and water. Instead, Chevron has ignored the rule of law and waged a retaliatory legal attack in the U.S. by using misinformation, fabricating a false story, presenting falsified evidence, and bribing federal witnesses. This is another unfortunate setback for those who seek to pursue justice for human rights and environmental protection in U.S. courts.
The Ecuadorian victims will continue to pursue justice in Canada, where that country's Supreme Court has already ruled once – unanimously – in their favor, allowing them to continue their efforts seize Chevron's assets in order to finally pay for the long-overdue clean-up. Amazon Watch stands with the victims and will fight back against Chevron's abuse of the U.S. legal system.
- Amicus Brief to SCOTUS by Amazon Watch and Rainforest Action Network
- Open letter from over a dozen Canadian organizations condemning Chevron's actions in Ecuador and abuse of the legal system
- Amicus Brief to US Second Circuit Court of Appeals by Amazon Watch