Chevron Corp. (CVX) lost another bid before a U.S appeals court for an order blocking enforcement of an Ecuadorean court’s $18 billion environmental damages verdict.
Chevron, the second-largest U.S. oil company, had asked a panel of judges at the U.S. Court of Appeals in New York to set aside its Sept. 19 ruling rejecting a trial judge’s decision in March that blocked collection of the Ecuadorean judgment. The company also asked for a rehearing on the merits of its appeal.
In a related decision, U.S. District Judge Lewis Kaplan this month refused Chevron’s request to restrain Ecuadorean assets that could be seized as part of the Ecuadorean judgment.
Chevron was ordered on Feb. 14 to pay as much as $18 billion in compensatory and punitive damages for Texaco Inc.’s alleged dumping of toxic drilling wastes in the Ecuadorean jungle from 1964 to about 1992. The ruling came in an 18-year- old lawsuit decided by a judge in Lago Agrio, a provincial capital near the Colombian border.
Karen Hinton, a spokeswoman for the plaintiffs, said that Ecuadorean communities affected by the contamination “are one step closer to justice as a result of today’s ruling.”
“For almost two decades, Chevron has stood in the way of a comprehensive cleanup of billions of gallons of crude oil and toxic waste water it deliberately dumped into the pristine rainforest,” Hinton said in an e-mailed statement. “Thousands of people have died or suffered as the oil giant and its legions of lawyers have fought to distract attention from the overwhelming evidence against the company.”
On Jan. 3, an Ecuadorean appeals court upheld the February ruling “in all of its parts, including the conviction for moral reparation or its alternative and costs,” according to the decision. Chevron can appeal the decision to the next level of Ecuador’s judiciary, a company spokesman said at the time.