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Chevron Canada has emerged victorious from a bitter battle over a decades-old court case in which thousands of Ecuadorian residents collectively sued Chevron for alleged water and soil contamination. The Supreme Court refused on Thursday to hear a request to review a lower court decision, rendering a final verdict that dismissed all claims against Chevron Canada Limited, according to The Progress.
While final in Canada, the case may not be final everywhere.
In the case that just won’t die, the lawsuit has imposed on various courts in various jurisdictions for decades, and the lawsuit may still find its way into other courts in other states.
A US appeals court in 2016 blocked the enforcement of the $9.5 billion judgement handed down by an Ecuadorian court against Chevron. The US appeals court supported a lower court ruling in 2014 that found the case against Chevron, initiated in an Ecuadorean court, was the product of fraud and racketeering, complete with fraudulent evidence and bribery of the Ecuadorean judge.
Undeterred by the two lower court rulings in the US, the case was submitted to the US Supreme court, which refused to hear the appeal. But the lawyers didn’t stop there, wanting to take even more stabs at the lawsuit by trying the case in Canada, this time targeting Chevron’s Canadian arm. It also tried its hand in Gibraltar, Brazil, and Argentina, also to no avail. Even the Hague has heard the case. It, too, ruled in Chevron’s favor, saying that the fraudulent Ecuadorian judgement “violates international public policy” and “should not be recognised or enforced by the courts of other States.”
The Hague ruling holds Ecuador liable for cost or damage to Chevron if the judgement were to be enforced anywhere in the world.
Chevron has never even operated in Ecuador, but it purchased Texaco Petroleum in 2001, and TexPet—together with state-owned Petroecuador, operated there between 1964 and 1992. TexPet disentangled itself from Ecuador in 1992, returning its share in the projects to Petroecuador. Chevron says that TexPet spent millions remedying the area now under dispute, adding that it had been fully released from further liability in 1998 by Ecuador.
By Julianne Geiger for Oilprice.com
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Julianne Geiger is a veteran editor, writer and researcher for Oilprice.com, and a member of the Creative Professionals Networking Group.