Legal Ethics

Chevron Celebrates Swift Dismissal of Patton Boggs Declaratory Suit re Alleged 'Smear Campaign'


Saying that a claim of tortious interference with client relations was too speculative and that it would be inappropriate for one federal district court to tell other federal district courts how to rule on attorney ethics issues, a judge has dismissed a declaratory judgment action brought by a well-known law firm against Chevron Corp. over an alleged “smear campaign” related to a high-profile environmental case.

“For this court to inform all other federal courts that Patton Boggs is qualified to represent the … plaintiffs before those courts would be incredibly intrusive,” said U.S. District Judge Henry Kennedy Jr.

The Blog of Legal Times provides a copy of his written opinion (PDF) today in the District of Columbia case.

It explains that the law firm’s request to amend its complaint to include tortious interference claims against both Chevron and its legal counsel, Gibson Dunn & Crutcher, cannot be granted because the facts pleaded don’t establish a prima facie case: While alleged claims, by the oil company and Gibson Dunn, of wrongdoing on Patton Boggs’ part are, the latter law firm contends, “aimed at” discrediting Patton Boggs with its clients, there is no resultant contract breach or damage, the judge says.

The lead Patton Boggs lawyer didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment on the ruling, reports Reuters.

However, attorney Theodore Boutrous, who represents Chevron, called the declaratory judgment action “fundamentally flawed” and said the oil company is “pleased that the district court so swiftly dismissed this frivolous and misguided lawsuit.”

The ruling relates to a megabucks, multi-decade environmental lawsuit concerning alleged damage to Ecuadorean rainforest, which has been detailed in earlier ABAJournal.com posts:

Chevron Shifts Gears, Files Civil RICO Suit Against Plaintiffs

Patton Firm Seeks to Sue Chevron, Gibson Dunn, Claims Tortious Interference with Client Relationship

US Judge Grants TRO to Block Enforcement of Potential Ecuador Verdict Against Chevron

Chevron Fined $8.6B By Ecuador Court in Environmental Case

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