Chevron accuses Ecuador of fudging justice

Jan. 23, 2012 at 8:14 AM
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SAN RAMON, Calif., Jan. 23 (UPI) -- Lawyers in Ecuador involved in a lengthy legal dispute with Chevron aren't correcting an injustice but making matters worse, a Chevron lawyer said.

Plaintiffs in Ecuador blame Texaco, which Chevron bought in 2001, for environmental contamination and adverse health effects tied to operations in the country's rainforests from 1972-90.

Petroecuador, Texaco's partner, is to blame for the current pollution, Chevron says.

Chevron early this month was ordered to pay $18 billion to settle the issue. The supermajor issued an appeal to that decision, saying the Ecuadorian side is mired in fraud.

"Throughout the course of this litigation, judges corruptly operating in concert with the plaintiffs' lawyers have created, rather than corrected, injustice," Hewitt Pate, Chevron vice president and general counsel, said in a statement.

Advocacy group Amazon Watch described a member of Chevron's legal team as a "political hack" and accused the supermajor of "legal thuggery."

"We want to reiterate that Chevron has every right to appeal to Ecuador's national court of justice to seek review of the trial and appellate court decisions but it has no right to special treatment during the pendency of the appeal," said Karen Hinton, a spokeswoman for Ecuadorians involved in a lawsuit against Chevron.

Chevron claims any case against it is ignoring the release of liability granted to Texaco by the Ecuadorian government in the 1990s.

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