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Republic of Ecuador v. Hinchee

United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit
741 F.3d 1185 (2013)


Facts

A large number of indigenous Ecuadorian people sued Chevron Corporation in the Lago Agrio litigation, claiming its predecessor Texaco contaminated their land exploring for oil and caused health problems. The Ecuadorian courts ultimately awarded $9.1 billion in damages against Chevron. While the lawsuit remained pending, Chevron sought arbitration in international court, claiming the Republic of Ecuador (plaintiff) violated its bilateral-investment treaty with the United States by refusing to notify the Ecuadorian courts that Ecuador had settled and released any environmental-pollution claims against Chevron, openly campaigning for a ruling against Chevron, and failing to indemnify Chevron for the damages and costs of the lawsuit. Chevron sought production of the materials and documents from the experts the Ecuadorians used in the Lago Agrio litigation. Ecuador filed suit seeking documents from and to depose environmental engineer Dr. Robert Hinchee (defendant), who testified as an expert for Chevron, in federal district court in Florida where Hinchee lived. Specifically, Ecuador requested Hinchee’s personal notes and the email communications between Hinchee and other nonattorney experts. Chevron intervened and opposed the subpoena, produced some 94,000 pages of Hinchee’s documents, but refused to produce the remaining 1,200 as shielded from production as work product under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure (FRCP) 26(b). The judge reviewed 40 of the retained documents, found 39 of them not privileged, and ordered Chevron to produce all remaining documents except draft reports or communications involving Chevron attorneys and their staff.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Hull, J.)

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