U.S. District Judge Lewis Kaplan gave his ruling on Monday in
Manhattan federal court, saying he had "difficulties" with Patton
Boggs' argument that a New York court did not have jurisdiction to
hear the case.
"This is about holding accountable all those who are responsible for
trying to enforce this travesty of justice that occurred in
Ecuador," Chevron's lawyer, Randy Mastro, said in an interview. "Now
there will be the opportunity to hold Patton Boggs accountable for
Patton Boggs general counsel Charles Talisman in a statement called
Chevron's claims "baseless and unlikely ever to proceed to
litigation on the merits." He said the case was in its early stages
and there were still jurisdictional arguments being made.
"If this case advances...we look forward to showing the lack of
merit in Chevron's allegations regarding our law firm," he said. "We
have no doubt that we acted ethically and properly in assisting
these communities, and that we will be able to demonstrate this to
the court if that becomes necessary."
In 2011, an Ecuadorean judge ruled in favor of plaintiff lawyer
Steven Donziger against Chevron for polluting the country's
rainforest. An award to the villagers for $18 billion was reduced in
2013 to $9.5 billion.
Patton Boggs was hired by the villagers in 2010 to come up with a
strategy to enforce the judgment, with partner James Tyrrell leading
the enforcement efforts, according to court records.
On March 4, Kaplan ruled that there was "clear and convincing
evidence" that Donziger's legal team had used bribery, fraud and
extortion in pursuit of the multibillion- dollar judgment, according
to court papers.
After Patton Boggs began enforcement efforts, Chevron in May asked
Kaplan if it could bring counterclaims against the firm that it had
concealed Donziger's fraudulent tactics, among other things.
[to top of second column]
Chevron said in court papers that Tyrrell took the case despite
having ethical concerns about its merits but did so because of
"enormous financial pressure at Patton Boggs," according to court
Tyrrell and Patton Boggs have denied the claims.
In June, Patton Boggs claimed the court lacked jurisdiction because
its partners consisted of "stateless" persons stationed in Dubai,
Doha, Abu Dhabi and other foreign locations and could not be tried
in New York.
Kaplan said on Monday the Patton Boggs partners in question "at
least arguably were domiciliaries of the states of the United
States" and the firm had the burden of proving partners intended to
give up their U.S. domiciles or take up domicile in a foreign
"That burden has not been sustained here."
Patton Boggs is in merger talks with the larger firm Squire Sanders.
Discussions include how to prevent a newly formed firm from assuming
liability related to the Chevron case, two people with knowledge of
the matter said earlier this month, on condition of anonymity
because they are not authorized to speak publicly about it.
(Reporting by Casey Sullivan; editing by Ted Botha and Lisa
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