Court rejects bid to enforce Ecuador judgment on Chevron Canada

Fri Jan 20, 2017 9:46pm EST
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By Ethan Lou

(Reuters) - A Toronto court has rejected a bid by Ecuadorian villagers to enforce a judgment in their home country against Chevron Canada Ltd, ruling the subsidiary is not liable for parent Chevron Corp, the U.S. oil major said on Friday.

A Canadian lawyer for the villagers in the environment-damage lawsuit said the ruling is "not a modern-day view," and that an appeal will be filed.

Residents of Ecuador's Lago Agrio region have been trying to force Chevron to pay for water and soil contamination caused from 1964 to 1992 by Texaco, which Chevron acquired in 2001.

The villagers obtained a $9 billion judgment against Chevron in Ecuador in 2011. But the company has no assets in Ecuador, and the villagers have been suing it in the United States, Canada, Brazil and Argentina to enforce the decision.

While not disputing that pollution occurred, Chevron has alleged the villagers' lawyer, Steven Donziger, and his associates went too far, including arranging for the ghost-writing of a key environmental report and bribing the presiding judge in Ecuador.

A U.S. federal appeals court, which blocked enforcement of the judgment last year, agreed with the company.

On Friday, the Ontario Superior Court of Justice ruled Chevron Canada Ltd is a separate entity from Chevron Corp, and is thus not a debtor to the Ecuadorian judgment, according to a copy of the decision provided by the California-based Chevron.

But Justice Glenn Hainey also ruled partly in favor of the villagers.   Continued...

A pollution warning sign is seen near a contaminated oil pool, said to be caused by Chevron-Texaco, in Aguarico, some 480km (298 miles) east of Quito, September 17, 2013. REUTERS/Guillermo Granja