Southern District Judge Lewis Kaplan (See Profile) yesterday refused to dismiss the racketeering lawsuit brought by Chevron alleging that a multi-billion dollar environmental damages judgment secured against the oil giant in Ecuador was secured by a fraud committed by Ecuadoran plaintiffs, New York attorney Steven Donziger and others.
But Kaplan somewhat trimmed the case of Chevron v Donziger, 11 Civ. 0691, by dismissing some state law claims, including one that he ruled was “premature”: Chevron’s assertion that Donziger and the co-called Lago Agrio plaintiffs would be unjustly enriched as a result of the judgment.
In a 53-page opinion, Kaplan let stand claims by Chevron of conspiracy under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act, part of a claim in fraud to the extent it alleges detrimental reliance by Chevron, a state law claim for civil conspiracy alleging the Ecuadoran plaintiffs and Donziger conspired to commit substantive state law violations and a claim that Donziger violated §487 of the New York Judiciary Law. In a separate seven-page ruling, Judge Kaplan declined to grant Chevron an order of attachment against Donziger to secure the recoverability of damages under RICO.