Chevron Files RICO Lawsuit Against Donziger, et. al.
The stakes just became larger in the ongoing battle over alleged environmental damage in Ecuador. Chevron just filed a lawsuit in the Southern District of New York against Steven Donziger and forty-seven lawyers, experts, consultants and named plaintiffs alleging RICO, fraud, tortious interference with contract, trespass and unjust enrichment. The Complaint is available here.
The Complaint alleges that Donziger and his co-conspirators “have sought to extort, defraud, and otherwise tortiously injure plaintiff Chevron by means of a plan they conceived and substantially executed in the United States.” Among the co-conspirators are (1) environmental consultants; (2) Ecuadorian lawyers and plaintiffs; (3) U.S. law firms Patton Boggs, Motley Rice, and Kohn Swift & Graf; (4) and environmental activists Amazon Watch and Rainforest Action Network.
“… [T]he RICO Defendants initiated a sham litigation in Lago Agrio, Ecuador … claiming to seek money damages for ‘collective environmental rights’ of the ‘affected’ ‘communities’ to remediate alleged petroleum contamination in Ecuador’s Oriente region…. In prosecuting the Lago Agrio Litigation, the RICO Defendants have engaged in a series of corrupt acts. For example, … they arranged the appointment of Richard Stalin Cabrera Vega … as the Ecuadorian court’s sole expert, … then secretly met with Cabrera to plan … and … ghostwrite the report…. To pressure Chevron in the United States, RICO Defendants have cited … fabricated evidence, Cabrera’s supposed ‘independent’ report and … trumped-up criminal charges in false statements to U.S. Congress, the U.S. Department of Justice, state and federal regulatory agencies, … the U.S. media, and Chevron shareholders…. The RICO Defendants’ conduct violates [RICO] with predicate acts of extortion, mail and wire fraud, money laundering, obstruction of justice, and witness tampering, among others.”
The Complaint seeks general damages, treble damages against the lawyers under New York Judiciary Law § 487, and a declaratory judgment that any judgment rendered in Ecuador is “unenforceable and non-recognizable.”