By Dow Jones Business News, October 07, 2013, 02:45:00 PM EDT
Chevron Corp. ( CVX ) will face a judge but not a jury when it heads to federal court in New York next week to try to
undermine a $19 billion environmental verdict in Ecuador.
U.S. Judge Lewis Kaplan ruled Monday that there were no longer grounds for a jury trial, after Chevron agreed to drop
monetary damages against lawyer Steven Donziger and other representatives of the Ecuadorian villagers who won the
judgment in 2011.
Chevron is suing Mr. Donziger and his cohorts for fraud and racketeering, arguing they used improper tactics to win
the environmental case. The defendants deny the charges and accuse Chevron of unethical practices. A trial is set for
The oil giant said last week that it would drop damages against Mr. Donziger if Judge Kaplan agreed to try all issues
in the case. Instead of money damages, Chevron said it would seek other relief to prevent the Ecuadorians and their
lawyers from seizing its assets around the world.
A favorable verdict could be a powerful tool for Chevron in trying to block efforts by the Ecuadorians to collect the
$19 billion judgment in countries where it operates. A defeat would be a blow to the company's contention that it is the
victim of fraud.
"Chevron is looking forward to holding Steven Donziger and his coconspirators accountable for orchestrating and
executing a fraudulent extortion scheme against the company," the company said in a statement.
Mr. Donziger opposed Chevron's argument that he was no longer entitled to a jury trial.
A spokesman for Mr. Donziger on Monday said Judge Kaplan was biased against him, and downplayed his chances of
prevailing against Chevron before Judge Kaplan. A decision by the judge "against Mr. Donziger and the Ecuadorians will
have no legitimacy in courts around the world," the spokesman said.
Judge Kaplan, in his order Monday, noted that claims of bias against him "have been rejected repeatedly both by this
court and the court of appeals."
Subscribe to WSJ: http://online.wsj.com?mod=djnwires
(END) Dow Jones Newswires
Copyright (c) 2013 Dow Jones & Company, Inc.