As widely expected, a judge in Manhattan ruled Tuesday that a $9.5 billion Ecuadorean environmental judgment against Chevron Corporation was fatally tainted by fraud. U.S. District Judge Lewis Kaplan’s 497-page decision zeroes in on the conduct of Steven Donziger, the New York–based lawyer who spearheaded claims that Chevron is liable for devastating a swath of the Ecuadorean Amazon. But plenty of other attorneys and law firms were drawn into the morass of a case over the years, and Kaplan’s ruling reads like a tale of lawyers run amok and sometimes led astray.
These lawyers probably aren’t enjoying the spotlight, but none of them come out looking nearly as bad as Donziger himself. Kohn Swift & Graf’s Joseph Kohn and Constantine Cannon’s Jeffrey Shinder, for example, convinced the judge that they fled the case when they smelled fraud. And if Chevron’s lawyers at Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher were hoping for a direct hit against Donziger’s cocounsel at Patton Boggs, they didn’t get it—though that may not be much consolation for Patton Boggs’ James Tyrrell Jr., whose involvement in the case has helped to create a full-blown crisis for the firm.
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