Twenty miles south of the jungle territory patrolled by Colombian leftist guerrillas and paramilitaries lies the ramshackle Ecuadorean city of Lago Agrio. It is there, in a dilapidated courthouse, that corporate lawyers employed by Chevron are engaged in a similar war of attrition with a group of determined plaintiffs lawyers.

The plaintiffs — some 30,000 residents of Ecuador’s Amazon Basin known as the Amazon Defense Coalition and backed by Philadelphia plaintiffs firm Kohn Swift & Graf — hope to hold the second-largest oil company in the U.S. accountable for alleged environmental abuses committed by White Plains, N.Y.-based Texaco, which Chevron bought for $35 billion in 2001. Texaco spent 30 years in the region, pumping billions of gallons of oil hundreds of miles west over the Andes to Ecuador’s port cities for shipment to the U.S.

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