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September 19, 2013

International Tribunal Rules for Chevron

On Tuesday, an international tribunal ruled that Chevron is not liable for environmental damage claims in Ecuador.  The tribunal upheld Chevron’s contention that agreements signed in the 1990’s release the company from any collective environmental claims.  The Wall Street Journal reports:

In its decision, the tribunal found Chevron and Texaco are “releasees” under agreements reached in 1995 and 1998 and Chevron can enforce its rights as a releasee. The tribunal also found Ecuador’s government settled all public interest or collective environmental claims, including collective claims asserted by third parties.

In 2011, an Ecuadorian court awarded plaintiffs an $18 billion verdict against the company, but the company has refused to pay, saying the proceedings in Ecuador were racked with fraud.  Plaintiffs have responded by trying to enforce the contested verdict in other jurisdictions around the world, a move that has also been condemned:

The ruling comes after an arbitration panel in The Hague said Ecuador should have prevented plaintiffs in a $19 billion award against Chevron from taking their battle to other countries, and needs to justify why its government shouldn’t be held responsible for the costs.

Today, the Institute for Legal Reform hosted a symposium at the Pepperdine School of Law, discussing the dangers of “tort tourism” and possible ramifications of enforcing foreign judgments in US courts.

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