It seems like notorious plaintiffs’ attorney Steven Donziger’s long-running battle against Chevron is the lawsuit that will never die.
Thankfully, the courts continue to ensure that it’s Donziger and his fellow plaintiffs attorneys that keep losing.
Their latest loss relates to a Gibraltar-based company, Amazonia Recovery Ltd., that they allegedly set up to receive and distribute funds resulting from a fraudulent Ecuadorian judgment against Chevron.
Donziger and his associates “intended to funnel their winnings from the Ecuadorian litigation into Amazonia Recovery, at least in part to prevent the government of Ecuador from attempting to grab the proceeds, according to court documents,” reports Bloomberg.
Chevron sued Amazonia Recovery for fraud in Gibraltar, and the “defendant failed to put on a defense.” As a result, Gibraltar’s Supreme Court entered a default judgment against Amazonia, which now must pay $28 million to Chevron.
The original $9.5 billion Ecuadorian judgment from which funds were supposed to flow to Amazonia was the product of what the Wall Street Journal has labeled the “legal fraud of the century.”
In an extensively documented, 497-page decision in 2014, U.S. District Court Judge Lewis Kaplan accused Donziger and his associates of engaging in massive fraud in order to obtain the $9.5 billion verdict against Chevron.
As Judge Kaplan noted, all of the “dishonest and corrupt steps in the litigation — coercion, bribery, ghostwriting, and so on — were intended to communicate threats to Chevron. Their purpose was to instill fear of a catastrophic outcome in order to increase the amount Chevron would pay to avoid the worst.”
In May, a Brazilian Deputy Prosecutor piled on by issuing an opinion recommending that the country’s high court not recognize the Ecuadorian judgment for enforcement because it was procured by corrupt means.
The Gibraltar court’s decision is “another example of how the international scheme against Chevron continues to erode,” said R. Hewitt Pate, Chevron’s vice president and general counsel.
It’s clear that Donziger’s attempted shakedown of Chevron has royally backfired, and one would think he might quit while he’s behind.
Thus far, however, he has proven to be a glutton for punishment. In the process, he’s cost Chevron’s shareholders, given false hope to countless Ecuadorian villagers, and created one of the saddest spectacles in modern legal history.