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Chevron Corporation v. Donziger
United States District Court for the Southern District of New York
2013 WL 1087236, No. 11 Civ. 0691 (2013)
In 1993 a class-action lawsuit was filed against Texaco, an oil company, in New York on behalf of indigenous people living near the Lago Agrio oil field in the Amazon rainforest region of Ecuador (collectively, the Lago Agrio inhabitants). The Lago Agrio inhabitants, who were primarily represented by attorney Steven Donziger (defendant), alleged that Texaco’s operations in Ecuador destroyed and polluted the rainforest, causing harm to the inhabitants and their livelihoods. Texaco had the case dismissed, arguing that New York was not a convenient forum. The Lago Agrio plaintiffs refiled their case in Ecuador, and Texaco settled the case in 1998, agreeing to engage in cleanup efforts. In 2002 Texaco was acquired by Chevron Corporation (plaintiff). The Lago Agrio inhabitants renewed their litigation in Ecuador, arguing that Chevron had failed to comply with the terms of the settlement. In 2002 a court in Ecuador awarded the Lago Agrio inhabitants over $18 billion in damages. Chevron filed a civil lawsuit under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act against Donziger in federal court, seeking an injunction prohibiting the Lago Agrio inhabitants from enforcing the judgment. Chevron alleged and presented evidence showing that Donziger and other parties involved in the litigation threatened and bribed the Ecuadorian judge who oversaw the case and committed other acts of fraud and obstruction of justice to obtain the judgment. During discovery, Chevron served a subpoena duces tecum on Donziger, requesting documents related to the claims. Donziger opposed the subpoena, arguing that the subpoena requested privileged information and that it was unduly burdensome.
Rule of Law
Holding and Reasoning (Kaplan, J.)
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