A recent ABA Journal story, “With $1B Fee Unpaid, Plaintiff Lawyer Who Won $18B Enviro Case is Now Pro Se Against Chevron,” reports that plaintiffs’ lawyer Steven Donziger could earn $1 billion in attorney fees, according to his opposing counsel, if an $18 billion foreign judgment against Chevron Corp. concerning environmental damages in Ecuador is upheld.
Meanwhile, Steven Donziger of Donziger & Associates in New York can’t afford to pay his own counsel as Chevron continues its bruising counterattack in the U.S. Chevron has retained 60 law firms to discredit Donziger on bribery and fraud charges. Donziger’s lawyer, John Keker of Keker & Van Nest in San Francisco, is seeking to withdraw from the civil racketeering and fraud case, citing Chervon’s “scorched-earth” litigation strategy. Dozinger is now proceeding as a pro se litigant against Chevron.
The litigation over the Amazon pollution began in New York in 1993, when dozens of rainforest aborigines sued Texaco in U.S. district court, claiming that the oil company left behind an environmental and public health crisis in a region home to 30,000 people. The suit argued Texaco Inc. dumped chemical-laden wastewater in the Amazon basin from 1964 to 1992. Chevron acquired Texaco in 2001.
Chervon convinced the New York court to let the case play out in Ecuador, where the drilling occurred. The case in Largo Agrio went through several judges amid allegations of corruption and scandal, until the final judge ordered Chevron to pay $8.6 billion and $9 billion in punitive damages.
Environmental hero Pablo Fajardo, the lead lawyer in Ecuador, said his clients are going to focus on the $18 billion Ecuadorian judgment in other countries. Chevron does not have significant assets in Ecuador, but does in other countries including, but not limited to, the U.S. Suits have recently been filed in Argentina, Brazil and Canada, in an effort to collect on the judgment.
The case is Maria Aguinda v. Chevron, 002-2003 Superior Court of Nueva Loja, Largo Agrio, Ecuador. For more on this case, visit http://chevrontoxico.com/