The Crowd Claims
Chevron must clean up its mess in Ecuador.
Next legal action of the crowd
Seize the assets of Chevron in Canada, in order to collect the legitimate compensation of 9.5 billion US dollars, needed to clean up the contamination of 400,000 hectare Amazon rainforest and to set up a large health care program. To cover the ongoing costs for preparation of this upcoming legal step, scheduled in 2017, the crowd needs US $28,000 (25.000 euro) by the end of 2017.
In 2011, the Ecuador National Court ordered Chevron to pay 9.5 billion US dollars to clean up 400,000 hectare of polluted Amazon rainforest and to set up a large health program. The contamination was arising due to inappropriate and outdated oil extraction methods between 1964 and 1995. Until now Chevron refuses to pay and has meantime stripped all its assets in Ecuador.
The Supreme Court decision in Canada allowed the victims to proceed with the enforcement in that country.
Case background and who The Crowd supports
Chevron left Ecuador years ago, but it “forgot” to take home the 16 billion gallons of toxic waste that contaminates streams and rivers relied on by local inhabitants for their drinking water, bathing, and fishing. After that, Chevron ignored the Ecuadorian National Court and refused to pay the 9,5 billion US dollars to clean the contamination of 400,000 hectare Amazon rainforest.
This deathly pollution of the Amazon was caused by Texaco (acquired by Chevron in 2000) by using inappropriate and outdated oil extraction equipment and methods between 1964 and 1995, in the Lago Agrio oil field. Ever since, indigenous people and farmers have been permanently exposed to contaminated water and lands, causing many of them to fall (very) ill, even leading to their deaths. In the affected area, high rates of cancer and other diseases occur.
In 1993, these 30,000 victims sued Chevron, formerly Texaco, in a class-action lawsuit in New York. Nine years later, Chevron, however, persuaded the U.S. Court to transfer the case to Ecuadorian courts. The subsequent trial in Ecuador took ten years, finding Chevron guilty of damaging the Amazon rainforest and its indigenous people. This verdict, which ordered Chevron to pay more than 9 billion US dollars to clean up its mess, has been reviewed and confirmed by three different layers of judgment within Ecuador, including the Ecuadorian National Court.
Chevron has stripped its Ecuadorian assets and promised the victims ‘a lifetime of lawsuits’. They have already spent tens of millions of US dollars to refrain from paying the 9.5 billion dollar judgment! The victims are now taking legal steps to seize the assets of this oil multinational in other countries, for instance Brazil, Argentina and Canada, in order to collect their legitimate compensation.
Fromboliere Cia. Ltda (Fromboliere), based in Ecuador, is the NGO/nonprofit that The Crowd Versus works together with for this case. Fromboliere (legaly) represents “The Union of People Affected by Texaco” (UDAPT) and collects and invests resources for this case.
The Toronto Court judge who heard the case in Canada accepted a request by UDAPT (Unión de Afectados por Texaco), the Ecuadorian plaintiffs, in which they asked he deny Chevron the possibility of re-litigating all the arguments previously resolved by the Ecuadorian Courts. The judge ruled in favor of those affected.
With this pronouncement the UDAPT, members of indigenous communities of Ecuador, advance with their iconic case, already enduring over 23 years of litigation. The Canadian Court decision may be interpreted, says Pablo Fajardo, the attorney of the Ecuadorian affected people, as “an acceptance by the judge of the validity of the sentence issued by the Ecuadorian Courts”. This decision also stops Chevron from causing unnecessary delays. Fajardo acknowledged that the judge did accept the argument presented by the oil company’s lawyers that Chevron Canada and Chevron Corporation are different companies. However, Fajardo expects this decision to be appealed and thinks “it will surely be reversed.”
The judge in Canada is deciding upon whether Chevron is only allowed to bring in their arguments that were allowed by the Ecuadorian Court, or that Chevron is able to bring in all new arguments, that were earlier withheld by the Equadorian Court . We are positive about the chance that it will be the former, but we are waiting for the decision.
During four days of legal hearing in Toronto (from September 12 – 16), the plaintiffs tried to enforce a US $9.5 billion pollution judgment by the National Court of Ecuador against Chevron’s assets in Canada. A flurry of admissions and arguments took place during the hearing, and these are expected to determine the scope of the enforcement trial targeting Chevron’s assets. Chevron has at least US $15 billion worth of assets in Canada, or more than enough to pay the entirety of the judgment plus interest.
Toronto, Canada – The group of plaintiffs will ask a Canadian judge Monday to stop Chevron from seeking to evade a $9.5 billion environmental damages award resulting from a lawsuit filed 23 years ago.
Chevron tried to block the enforcement action in Canada until the country’s Supreme Court ordered it to proceed in a unanimous opinion issued last year. Chevron has an estimated $15 billion to $25 billion in assets in the country, including oil production facilities, a refinery in British Columbia, and the Athabasca oil sands project in Alberta. A five-day motions hearing, beginning Monday, will help determine both the scope of the enforcement trial and the timetable for the possible seizure of Chevron assets. The judgment against Chevron is now worth roughly $12 billion because of statutory interest under Canadian law.
First, the Ecuadorians will seek to knock out all of Chevron’s “fraud” defenses because three separate Ecuador courts have considered Chevron’s evidence and rejected its validity – courts where Chevron chose to conduct the trial, according to legal papers filed by Alan Lenczner, the Canadian trial lawyer.
Secondly, the Ecuadorians plan to block a Chevron motion that seeks a ruling that the company’s Canadian assets cannot be seized because they are owned by a wholly-owned Chevron subsidiary called Chevron Canada, rather than by Chevron itself. The Ecuadorians have rejected Chevron’s argument as “illogical” and “preposterous” and predict the court will deny the company’s attempt to hide behind corporate technicalities to evade paying what it owes to the impoverished villagers, many of whom suffer from cancer and other health impacts due to the pollution.
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