Chevron couldn’t have won a more emphatic victory in its long-running Ecuadorian pollution case than Monday’s ruling by the U.S. Court of Appeals in New York. A three-judge panel unanimously affirmed a trial court’s determination that, in 2011, the lead attorney for some 30,000 Ecuadorians had won a $9.5 billion judgment against Chevron by means of bribery, coercion, and fraud.
The energy company will probably leverage the ruling as part of its continuing effort to avoid paying a dime on the verdict. Chevron lacks any property or assets in Ecuador, so it simply refused to pay the plaintiffs there. The Ecuadorians, meanwhile, have sought to enforce their award in Canada, where Chevron subsidiaries do have assets. Opposing enforcement there, Chevron will now cite the U.S. appeals court opinion as support for its argument that the Ecuadorian case was so shot through with fraud that it doesn’t deserve respect anywhere.