The tide may be turning in Chevron Corp.’s hard-fought legal battle with a group of Ecuadorean villagers, after a Canadian judge refused on Wednesday to enforce a $19 billion judgment against the oil juggernaut.
In 2011, a judge in a small Ecuadorean town handed down the hefty judgment after ruling that Texaco Inc., which Chevron had acquired 10 years before, polluted the environment and sickened villagers by improperly disposing of drilling waste in the 1970s and 1980s.
The villagers have asked other countries to enforce the ruling, since Chevron has no refineries, oil wells or storage terminals in Ecuador, Bloomberg reports. Efforts to recoup the judgment internationally, however, have been mixed. Earlier this year, an Argentine appeals court froze up to $19 billion in Chevron assets in that country.
But, on Wednesday, Justice David Brown rejected the plaintiffs’ attempt to seize the oil company’s Canadian assets. Brown said that his court did not have jurisdiction over the case, since the Ecuadorean judgment involved Chevron Corp.—not its Chevron Canada subsidiary.
Chevron, meanwhile, has been making its own accusations against its courtroom foes. In January, the company claimed that the plaintiffs’ attorneys paid judges thousands of dollars to ghostwrite judicial orders that were sympathetic to the villagers.
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