New York, New York – Rainforest villagers and their counsel have condemned the “betrayal” by the Patton Boggs law firm of their own clients by settling with Chevron and paying the oil giant $15 million.
The villagers said they were exploring their legal options against the law firm to prevent it from further violating its ethical duties by turning over privileged documents to the oil company.
The following is a joint statement of the Ecuadorian rainforest communities and their U.S. legal advisor, Steven R. Donziger, on the occasion of the settlement agreement between Chevron and the Patton Boggs law firm:
“We condemn in the strongest possible terms Chevron’s continuing campaign of extortion and intimidation to retaliate against rainforest villagers for holding it accountable for its environmental crimes in the courts of Ecuador, where Chevron chose to hold the trial and promised to accept jurisdiction. Patton Boggs is now the latest victim of Chevron’s campaign of intimidation which will not deter the communities and the many lawyers who work on their behalf who are fighting for justice in Ecuador on behalf of indigenous and farmer communities. Once again, this settlement is another sign that the American judicial system has failed the Ecuadorian rainforest communities who now have been whipsawed by Chevron in various courts for two decades, with little end in sight.
We wish to thank the many dedicated attorneys at Patton Boggs who fought long and hard against Chevron on behalf of the company’s many victims. We also wish to thank our friends inside Patton Boggs who internally opposed this settlement agreement and fought against this sad and unethical betrayal of their clients. The firm’s overall decision to surrender to Chevron’s pressure campaign is a violation of its ethical duty to its clients, in this case the vulnerable rainforest communities of Ecuador who have suffered for decades.
The affected communities are analyzing their legal options and will explore steps to nullify the settlement agreement on the grounds that it is unethical on its face, in that it requires the law firm to violate attorney-client privilege and to act in detriment to the firm’s former clients. With the announcement of this settlement, Patton Boggs already has prejudiced its former clients in violation of its ethical obligations. The communities also will be exploring options to seek an injunction blocking Patton Boggs from turning over any privileged materials to Chevron, including the details of current enforcement actions targeting the company’s assets.
We want to reiterate that there are several American and international law firms and individual lawyers who continue to fight on behalf of the Ecuadorians and their U.S. legal advisor, Steven R. Donziger. In addition, the communities are currently in discussions with several additional law firms in different countries about joining the litigation to hold Chevron accountable for its abhorrent conduct in Ecuador.
Finally, we also wish to emphasize that Chevron’s RICO decision in New York is currently on appeal with argument expected as early as the Fall. Given the many legal and factual flaws in that decision, which we have pointed out, we expect the ruling to be reversed on appeal thus opening up the United States to potential enforcement actions against Chevron.”