Lawyer to appeal ruling in Chevron-Ecuador case

A New York lawyer who won a $9.5 billion pollution judgment against Chevron Corp. in Ecuador said he will fight a U.S. judge’s finding that he resorted to bribery and fraud to secure the award.

The lawyer, Steven Donziger, filed a notice of appeal Tuesday in Manhattan federal court to challenge this month’s decision by U.S. District Judge Lewis Kaplan. The ruling left Donziger, who has spent two decades fighting Chevron, with a slimmer chance of securing compensation for rain-forest dwellers in Ecuador’s Lago Agrio area who claimed their land was turned into a toxic dumping ground for foreign oil interests.

Donziger also asked the judge to delay enforcing his ruling, saying it is “without precedent” and “unlikely to survive appeal.”

“It seeks to pre-emptively undermine the judicial decree of a foreign sovereign nation and, in so doing, to let Chevron Corp. off the hook for decades of deliberate pollution in the Amazon rain forest,” Donziger said.

In his findings, reached in a racketeering lawsuit filed by San Ramon, Calif.-based Chevron, Kaplan said Donziger paid off a judge and fabricated evidence to win the $9.5 billion award, which was cut in half from an original $19 billion by Ecuador’s highest court on Nov. 12.

Chevron, the second-largest U.S. oil company, has said Kaplan’s opinion should be respected by courts in other countries, including Brazil, Argentina and Canada, where the company has assets and where Donziger and his team have sued to to collect on the judgment. Those cases are pending.