Residents of an Amazon rainforest are trying to collect on a judgment they won against Chevron, and the oil giant is refusing to pony up.
The case began 11 years ago, when plaintiffs said their land was contaminated by then-Texaco’s oil operations dating back to the 1970s. The contamination, they said, caused significant health problems for residents. In February 2011, an Ecuadorian court (made up of one judge in a small jungle town) held Chevron, which bought Texaco in 2011, liable and ordered the company to pay nearly $19 billion in damages.
Since then, Chevron has questioned the validity of that decision, claiming in a statement that the judgment was “a product of bribery, fraud, and it is illegitimate.” The company also said it “does not believe that the Ecuador judgment is enforceable in any court that observes the rule of law.”
Lawyers for the plaintiffs in the case said they will try to seize Chevron’s assets in countries where it has operations to force the oil giant to make good on the judgment. So far, the group already has filed suit against Chevron in Canada in an attempt to enforce the Ecuadorian court’s judgment. “[The Brazil lawsuit] is the second filing to force the company to pay for the clean-up of a disaster that decimated indigenous groups and caused an outbreak of cancer and other oil-related diseases,” the plaintiffs said in a statement.
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