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In possibly the biggest court case in the history of the energy industry, two years ago Chevron was found guilty of causing great damage to the environment in the jungles of Ecuador. For nearly two decades Steven R. Donziger acted as the prosecuting lawyer, building the case to take Chevron down. If Chevron are forced to pay the $18 billion in damages awarded by the Ecuadorian court, Mr Donziger will earn more than $1 billion in fees.
However whilst that may seem like a dream for most lawyers, the case has massively affected his life, and he is now facing a lawsuit brought against him by Chevron, who are accusing him of masterminding a conspiracy that found the energy giant guilty. The trial will begin in October, and if successful could see him and his associates ordered to pay billions in damages.
Steven R. Donziger, consults with Huaorani women outside Lago Agrio's Superior Court (Bloomberg Businessweek)
In a recent interview with the NY Times, Donziger described how he was followed by shady looking men, had to suffer surveillance on his family, and even cars keeping permanent watch outside his house, as Chevron tried to intimidate him and discover any evidence that they could bring to bear against him.
Mr. Donziger explained to the NY Times that “a giant oil company is trying to destroy me because I was able to hold them accountable for toxic dumping on a mass scale.”
Environmentalists, who are not surprisingly some of his biggest supporters, claim that he is being vilified by Chevron for his part in unearthing their poor environmental record. Chevron claims that he is just a clever con artist.
Chevron have said that Denziger was involved in the ghostwriting of a crucial report that was submitted to the Ecuadorian court and proved to be a deciding factor in the outcome of the case, and some of his former allies in the case have even switched sides in light of this new lawsuit, signing statements to support Chevron.
Donziger has argued that Texaco, the company that was bought out by Chevron, had moved through the Amazon rainforest in Ecuador in their search for oil, leaving behind toxic spills and slicks that to this day remain.
Environmental damage in Ecuadorian Amazon. (Energy Digital)
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Chevron claims that he has fabricated the majority of facts in order to frame them, and boost his substantial legal fees. They state that the majority of the pollution was caused by the national oil company Petroecuador, who acted as Texaco’s partner, and to this day still operates wells in the region.
Chevron has been consistent in its denial, and has never accepted the $18 billion judgement, searching for anyway to wriggle out of it.
By. James Burgess of Oilprice.com
James Burgess studied Business Management at the University of Nottingham. He has worked in property development, chartered surveying, marketing, law, and accounts. He has also…