Law
3:15 am
Thu May 8, 2014

Legendary D.C. Law Firm To Pay Chevron In Ecuador Pollution Case

Originally published on Thu May 8, 2014 7:04 am

A long-running legal battle between a legendary Washington law and lobbying firm and a major oil company has been settled.

D.C.-based Patton Boggs has agreed to pay Chevron $15 million to settle a case that centers on pollution from drilling activity in the rainforests of Ecuador.

The case has gone on for more than four years, and the stakes were enormous for the two powerhouses.

Chevron filed a suit against the firm for engaging in fraud and deception in trying to get the oil company to pay up on a nearly $10 billion verdict that was handed down by an Ecuadorian court in 2011.

In that case, Ecuadorean villagers had sued Chevron for polluting the Amazon jungle during oil exploration projects decades earlier.

The exploration projects were conducted by Texaco, but Chevron bought that company in 2001.

In court filings, Chevron said Patton Boggs knew that a critical report about the extent of the environmental damage was wrong.

In a statement, Patton Boggs did not admit to any wrongdoing but said it regrets its involvement in the case.

The rain forest villagers and their New York-based lawyer Steven Donziger issued their own statement, condemning Patton Boggs for settling the case and Chevron for "intimidation."

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

NPR's business news starts with big bucks paid by a big law firm.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

INSKEEP: This is an epic legal battle between a Washington law firm and a major oil company and it's been settled. D.C.-based Patton Boggs has agreed to pay Chevron $15 million to settle a case over drilling activity in the rainforests of Ecuador.

NPR's Jackie Northam reports.

JACKIE NORTHAM, BYLINE: The legal battle between Chevron and the Patton Boggs law firm has gone on for more than four years and the stakes were enormous for the two powerhouses. Chevron filed a suit against the firm for engaging in fraud and deception in trying to get the oil company to pay up on a nearly $10 billion verdict that was handed down by an Ecuadorian court in 2011.

In that case, Ecuadorean villagers had sued Chevron for polluting the Amazon jungle during oil exploration projects decades earlier. In fact, the exploration projects were conducted by Texaco, but Chevron bought that company in 2001.

In court filings, Chevron said Patton Boggs knew that a critical report about the extent of the environmental damage was wrong. In a statement, Patton Boggs did not admit to any wrongdoing, but says it regrets its involvement in the case.

The rainforest villagers and their New York based lawyer, Steven Donziger, issued their own statement, condemning the betrayal by Patton Boggs for setting the case, and Chevron's, "intimidation."

Jackie Northam, NPR News, Washington. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.