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US Supreme Court rules in favour of Chevron in Ecuador pollution case

21 June 2017

The long-running $8.65 billion pollution case against Chevron brought by Ecuadorian villagers and their American lawyer passed a significant milestone when the US Supreme Court ruled in favour of the oil major on June 19. The court turned down an appeal of lower court rulings blocking enforcement in the United States of an Ecuadorian judgement against Chevron in 2011.

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A New York court found in 2014 that the $8.65 billion damages against Chevron had been the result of "a parade of corrupt actions" by the villagers’ representative, New York-based lawyer Steven Donziger, including coercion and fraud, culminating in a bribe offer to the court in Ecuador. The Supreme Court’s decision backs up this ruling.

Donziger and representatives of residents of the Lago Agrio region in the Ecuadorean rain forest alleged Chevron was responsible for water and soil contamination caused from 1964 to 1992 by Texaco, which Chevron acquired in 2001. While not disputing that pollution occurred, Chevron said a 1998 compensation agreement between Texaco and Ecuador absolved it of further liability.

The two decade-long legal battle with Chevron has now in all likelihood reached the end of the road in the US, but the plaintiffs have said they plan to continue efforts to enforce the judgement in other countries, including Canada.

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