Chevron has seen only a few recent victories in its decade-long pollution case against Ecuadorian villagers, but the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals has seemingly given the oil company a major triumph in a Sept. 26 ruling.
The appeals court ruled that U.S. District Judge Lewis Kaplan will continue to oversee the case, despite arguments from Ecuadorian lawyers that the judge disregarded a previous 2nd Circuit ruling in their favor. Lawyers for the plaintiffs believe Kaplan is overly receptive to the oil company’s pitch, with some advocates calling him “Chevron's greatest ally.”
The 2nd Circuit, however, said that the plaintiff’s request was premature. Circuit Judge Barrington Parker said at the hearing that the Ecuadorians would have a better chance to have the judge removed if the case goes to trial and they lose.
“You can come back here and get that judgment set aside,” Parker said according to Reuters. “If you're right, you'll win.” Judge Debra Ann Livingston, meanwhile, questioned what was “so extraordinary” to require court action before the trial begins on Oct. 15.
Judge Kaplan previously issued an injunction that absolved Chevron from paying an $18 billion pollution judgment leveled in 2011 against the company by an Ecuadorian court. The 2nd Circuit later overturned the injunction, saying in part that the injunction would encourage others to challenge the legitimacy of foreign rulings in New York.
But now, Chevron’s lawyers are attempting to make Judge Kaplan’s original judgment permanent. The company claims the Ecuadorians and a lawyer who worked on their behalf engaged in fraud and bribery to gain the reward.
For more on InsideCounsel’s continuing coverage of the Chevron case, check out these stories: