Residents of the Ecuadorian rainforest looking for a place to enforce their $19 billion oil-pollution judgment against Chevron may have to scratch Canada off their list. A judge in Ontario said in a May 1 ruling that the plaintiffs in the epic two-decade-old lawsuit should go elsewhere.
In February 2011, New York plaintiffs’ attorney Steven Donziger engineered the extraordinary verdict against Chevron in a provincial trial court in Ecuador. Although the Ecuadorian judiciary has upheld the judgment on appeal, and the country’s president, Rafael Correa, has strongly backed Donziger and his clients, Chevron has vowed never to pay a dime of the verdict. The San Ramon, Calif.-based energy giant contends that the trial in Lago Agrio, Ecudaor, was itself contaminated by bribery, falsified evidence, and ghostwritten court documents. Since Chevron has no assets in Ecuador to speak of, Donziger’s team has filed fresh suits in Canada, Argentina, and Brazil, seeking the assistance of courts in those countries to seize and sell off Chevron ships, refineries, and pipelines.