Ecuador pollution victims given leave to pursue Chevron in Canadian court
04 September 2015
Canada's top court ruled on September 4 that a group of Ecuadorean villagers could pursue a multi-billion dollar pollution lawsuit against Chevron Corp in the Canadian province of Ontario. Chevron is contesting a ruling by Ecuador's highest court that said the oil giant had to pay $9.5 billion to clean up contamination at a site it once owned. The villagers are now going after Chevron's assets in Canada, Brazil and Argentina.
"Canadian courts, like many others, have adopted a generous and liberal approach to the recognition and enforcement of foreign judgments," the Canadian Supreme Court said in its unanimous ruling.
The decision marked the third defeat for Chevron on the merits of the case in Canadian courts. The villagers can now continue with a 2012 lawsuit against Chevron's Canadian subsidiary in a lower Ontario court
Chevron said in an emailed statement it would argue in the lower Ontario court that the lawsuit should be stopped early on the grounds the initial judgment "is the product of fraud and other misconduct, and is therefore illegitimate and unenforceable."
A US judge concluded last year that the American lawyer who helped secure the settlement used corrupt means. That ruling has been appealed.
Canada's Supreme Court said in its ruling that it was taking no position on the merits of the original case against Chevron. Chevron has a relatively limited asset base in Canada.
The villagers have been litigating the case for over 20 years. They initially sued Texaco, which Chevron later acquired, over contamination in the jungle around Lago Agrio, Ecuador, between 1964 and 1992.