Ecuadorean Plaintiffs Want Judge Off US Racketeering Case

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Written By admin at Monday, February 20th, 2012

Steven Donziger, the U.S. legal adviser to a group of Ecuadoreans suing Chevron Corp., and the Ecuadoreans have asked a U.S. judge to step aside from a racketeering case  the oil company brought against the Ecuadoreans in New York.

As a quick recap, the Ecuadoreans have sued Chevron in long-running litigation over environmental damage in that country’s Amazon region. An Ecuadorean court issued an $ 18 billion judgment against Chevron last year, which is being appealed.

Shortly before the judgment was entered Chevron filed a lawsuit against the Ecuadorean plaintiffs, their lawyers and Donziger in the U.S., claiming the 18-year-old litigation was little more than an elaborate shakedown scheme.

Fast forward to today, Donziger has asked U.S. District Judge Kaplan, who is presiding in the U.S. case, to step aside because “the court has not hesitated to express either its antipathy to Donziger or its partiality to Chevron’s overreaching legal arguments.”

“These attacks on Donziger will haunt the remaining proceedigns, casting dobut on the fairness, impartiality and propriety of everything the court does from her on out,” said John W. Keker, a lawyer for Donziger, and James Tyrell Jr., a lawyer for the Ecuadorean plaintiffs, in a court filing.

“Donziger therefore requests that the court consult its conscience and ask itself whether it can both be and appear to be fair and impartial when adjudicating Cheveron’s remaining claims against him.”

“The motion is unwarranted,” said Kent Robertson, a Chevron spokesman. “They’ve tried this tactic before and failed.”

Last year, Kaplan issued a preliminary order barring the Ecuadorean plaintiffs from pursuing Chevron’s assets outside of Ecuador. However, a U.S. appeals court in September threw out the injunction.

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