It’s a good day for justice against oil company abuses.
We have written several times about Chevron’s effort to avoid paying a multi-billion dollar judgment from an Ecuadorian court for polluting the Amazon. Today, a U.S. federal appeals court handed a significant victory to the Ecuadorians, and lifted an order from a lower court that prohibited any efforts to enforce the Ecuadorian judgment.
Back in March, Chevron convinced a New York federal judge to issue an injunction to stop the Ecuadorian plaintiffs and their lawyers from collecting the judgment, arguing, despite the fact that it was Chevron itself that originally wanted to litigate the case in Ecuador (over the plaintiffs’ objection), that they had not gotten a fair trial in Ecuador and that the plaintiffs were conspiring against them.
The Ecuadorians appealed that injunction to the Second Circuit Court of Appeals, and we filed an amicus brief to support their efforts. (We said that since Chevron had previously argued that the case should be dismissed to Ecuador, and had defended the adequacy of the Ecuadorian judicial system, it should not now be able to attack that judicial system in order to avoid enforcement of a judgment.)
A three-judge panel of the Second Circuit heard the appeal last Friday, and today they issued a brief order lifting the injunction and ordering the district court to stop proceedings on Chevron’s lawsuit. We don’t know exactly why yet, but clearly the judges thought that the injunction was so wrong that immediate action was warranted. (A full opinion will be issued later.)
The appeal wasn’t a complete victory for the Ecuadorian plaintiffs–the appeals court declined to remove Judge Kaplan, who the Ecuadorians believe is biased against them, from the case. But it’s possible that, after the court issues its opinion, there won’t be any case left for Kaplan to preside over.