Chevron Wins Latest In Long-Running Civil Case

Gasoline pumps situated at a Chevron station in Milpitas, Calif., in February. A federal judge ruled that a record $9.5 billion environmental-damage award against Chevron was tainted. ASSOCIATED PRESS

Gasoline pumps situated at a Chevron station in Milpitas, Calif., in February. A federal judge ruled that a record $9.5 billion environmental-damage award against Chevron was tainted. ASSOCIATED PRESS

California-based Chevron has won the latest court decision in a case that the Wall Street Journal calls “… one the longest running in corporate history.” The WSJ backgrounds that “… Monday’s decision affirms a lower-court ruling by U.S. District Judge Lewis Kaplan, who found in 2014 that the $9.5 billion environmental-damage judgment won by New York lawyer Steven Donziger and his Ecuadorean plaintiffs against Chevron was obtained through fraud and corruption. Judge Kaplan ruled Mr. Donziger couldn’t enforce the judgment in the U.S. or profit from the award anywhere in the world.

One reason the case will continue: “The appeals judges wrote that although the $9.5 billion judgment can’t be enforced in the U.S., their ruling does not stop the plaintiffs from taking action to enforce the judgment elsewhere.”

Read about the latest chapter of the saga here:

Asbestos Victims Might Reopen Cases In Wake Of BASF Appeal Finding

Hollywood may have its next true-to-life legal story and asbestos victims with long-settled lawsuits against BASF Catalysts may have new claims in the wake of a federal appeals court ruling. Judges found that the the company “… and its attorneys must face claims that they fraudulently concealed evidence that the company’s talc products contained asbestos, forcing many asbestos victims to dismiss or settle their tort claims,” according to The Courthouse News and other sources.
Judge Julio Fuentes, writing a three-judge panel in the 3rd Circuit, said that “… we conclude that the [lower] District Court erred when it dismissed the fraud and fraudulent concealment claims. The amended class action complaint properly alleges the elements of fraud and fraudulent concealment – namely that BASF and Cahill lied about and destroyed the asbestos evidence to plaintiffs’ detriment. Neither the New Jersey litigation privilege nor pleading requirements stand in the way of these claims.”
The Courthouse News added that, “… however, the court found it premature to make a ruling on any particular legal defense that defendants might make if plaintiffs seek to reopen state cases.”
The report offered, by way of background and plot twist: “The scheme collapsed in a recent lawsuit when a former research chemist for Engelhard testified that he had discovered asbestos in the company’s talc many years ago, and had been instructed to turn over all of his talc-related records. This testimony triggered discovery of potentially concealed documents, of which many were found kept secretly in a Cahill storage facility.”
Read the report here: Courthouse News Service

Beware Court-Styled Scam Artists

Superior Court officials in several SoCal jurisdictions are reporting scams that involve email or phone contacts alleging that somebody has missed jury duty or committed some other infraction, and owes money. Los Angeles, San Francisco and San Diego counties are among those where fraud has been reported.
Michael Roddy, Executive Officer of the San Diego Superior Court, offered some advice: “It’s important to reiterate to the public that we do not communicate with those with issues before the court via unsolicited email or telephone. If anyone tries to contact you regarding “missed jury duty” or cases of which you are unaware, you should delete the email or disregard the phone call.” 
The NBC affiliate station in San Diego has this report

Chevron ‘Donziger’ case wrapping up in NYC

One of the most-watched civil cases in the country, pitting California-based Chevron against what the New York Times called a “freelance” attorney, is headed for closing arguments this week in New York City. Over the last few weeks a parade of witnesses have testified about bribes, perjury and other allegations. The trial, before a federal judge not a jury, even has a de facto YouTube channel as parts of Joe Berlinger’s documentary “Crude” are posted.
At issue is a previous trial in Ecuador that resulted in judgement of more than $9 billion against Chevron, based on work done by Texaco before the later company was acquired by Chevron. In part, the case has become famous after a judge ordered that outtakes from the Berlinger movie could be seen as evidence for Chevron, not just the whole film. The unused footage apparently shows very candid conversations about intimidating judges and misrepresenting evidence, and is posted all over YouTube. Chevron is, in effect, suing Donziger under RICO laws.
Any Google search returns plenty of stories, but let us recommend this recent report from the New York Times that includes “… one after another, the witnesses, including some of his closest allies and financiers who are now estranged from his cause, have testified that Mr. Donziger committed witness tampering and fraud.” Read that here.
And for a more recent report, that’s much more sympathetic for Donziger, check out this interview-focused  Adam Klasfeld piece in the Courthouse News Service.