Trials & Litigation

Chevron can sue Patton Boggs over law firm effort to collect $9.5B verdict, federal judge rules


In the latest salvo in a hard-fought international environmental case, a federal judge in New York has OK’d a request by Chevron Corp. to sue a law firm representing the oil company’s opponent in its efforts to collect a $9.5 billion judgment awarded by a court in Ecuador.

Although Patton Boggs is not the lead counsel representing the plaintiffs in the environmental case and hence was not directly impacted by a U.S. district court ruling earlier this month that the $9.5 verdict had been obtained by fraud, the Washington, D.C., firm did attempt to help the Ecuadorian plaintiffs collect their verdict in the underlying case. That resulted in another ruling Monday by Judge Lewis Kaplan in the Manhattan case. He said Chevron could countersue Patton Boggs in the collection litigation, according to Bloomberg and Reuters.

Chevron will seek treble damages, punitive damages and attorney fees in its counterclaims against Patton Boggs, Bloomberg reports.

Chevron contends in a court filing that Patton Boggs partner James Tyrrell agreed to head collection efforts despite doubts about the merits of the environmental case because of “enormous financial pressure at Patton Boggs,” Reuters reports. The oil company has also suggested that Patton Boggs may have concealed fraudulent tactics by lead plaintiffs lawyer Steven Donziger, who does not work at Patton Boggs.

Tyrrell and the law firm have denied these claims.

In an earlier court filing arguing against Chevron’s efforts to pursue counterclaims, Patton Boggs called Chevron’s effort “a bad-faith, legally-futile, and vexatious stratagem designed to divert the resources” of Patton Boggs and pressure the firm to abandon the collection case.

Additional and related coverage:

ABAJournal.com: “Federal judge rules for Chevron in civil-racketeer case, bans collection of $9B enviro award in US”

ABAJournal.com: “Patton Boggs says latest partner defections don’t affect merger talks”

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