Monday, October 16, 2017

Chevron Lawyer Larry Lowenstein Continues to Mislead Canadian Courts About Company's Fraud in Ecuador

Reposted from The Chevron Pit

To help Chevron block enforcement of the Ecuador environment judgment in Canada, company lawyer and Osler partner Larry Lowenstein flat-out lied last week to a panel of three judges on the Ontario Court of Appeal in Toronto. It is the vulnerable indigenous communities in Ecuador who pay the price for Lowenstein's bad form in service of one of the world's worst corporate polluters.

Lowenstein's partners at Osler naturally claim they run one of the leading business law firms in Canada. If misleading courts and shareholders on behalf of clients is how Osler gets its business, as Lowenstein seems to think, then those partners might need to rethink their marketing model.

Lowenstein made an interesting cameo for Chevron last Wednesday before the appeals panel in Toronto that heard argument over a $1 million costs order the oil major is trying to impose on the impoverished indigenous groups it poisoned. Those indigenous groups in 2013 won a $9.5 billion environmental judgment against Chevron, as determined by three layers of courts in Ecuador in the venue where the company insisted the trial be held and where it had accepted jurisdiction.

Since then, Chevron has hired 60 law firms and used roughly 2,000 lawyers to evade paying the judgment. It sued an American human rights lawyer for the Ecuadorians for $60 billion before dropping all money damages claims on the eve of trial. It is now suing the same lawyer (Steven Donziger) for $33 million in fees, trying to bankrupt him. (For background, see here.)

This is how Chevron rolls. And without lawyers willing to do its bidding, Chevron could never get away with such blatant misconduct.

Chevron's attempt to impose a costs order in Canada is a vital part of the company's global intimidation model. It is a brazen attempt to close the courthouse doors to the very people who are trying to collect a judgment Chevron owes that will be used to clean up the horrific contamination the company left on their ancestral lands. This is in consistent with a threat Chevron made in 2009 promising the indigenous groups "a lifetime of litigation" if they continued to pursue their claims.

"We will fight this case until hell freezes over, and then we will fight it out on the ice," said Charles James, Chevron's former General Counsel.

As the latest front man for Chevron's impunity campaign in Canada, Lowenstein claimed to the appeals panel that the Ecuador judgment was based on an "egregious fraud" because that's what a pro-business U.S. judge, Lewis A. Kaplan, determined after a lopsided "racketeering" trial held in 2013 where the court refused to consider any evidence of Chevron's environmental contamination. Kaplan also held undisclosed investments in Chevron during the trial, which for a myriad of reasons was called a "Dickensian farce" by noted U.S. trial lawyer John Keker.

(Here is a detailed press release and a 33-page report documenting Kaplan's erroneous findings.)

In making his argument, Lowenstein lied about the overwhelming evidence against Chevron in the Ecuador proceeding, ignored the false testimony that Kaplan credited in the RICO matter, and covered up evidence of Chevron's fraud in both Ecuador and the United States to try to distract attention from the company's liability.

Consider what Lowenstein failed to mention about Chevron's role in creating an environmental and humanitarian catastrophe in Ecuador so massive it is called the "Amazon Chernobyl" by locals:

  • Chevron was found by three layers of courts in Ecuador to have dumped billions of gallons of oil waste into the rainforest over a two-decade period, decimating indigenous groups and causing numerous cancer deaths. The court decisions were based on 105 technical evidentiary reports. Here is a summary of the overwhelming evidence; a legal brief that explains the history of the company's dumping and cover-up; and a summary of the high cancer rates.
  • Initially sued by indigenous villagers in New York in 1993, Chevron praised Ecuador's justice system thinking it could engineer a political dismissal of the case by shifting it to the South American nation. With the scientific evidence mounting in its preferred forum of Ecuador, Chevron sold its assets to evade paying the judgment.
  • Ultimately, Chevron was ordered to pay $9.5 billion in damages and costs. This amount is a pittance compared to the roughly $50 billion BP has paid for its much smaller Gulf of Mexico spill in 2010.
  • Chevron retaliated by suing the indigenous groups and their lawyers before Kaplan, who invited the company to file the action. Chevron then made a mockery of justice with Kaplan's blessing, dropping all damages claims on the eve of trial to avoid a jury. Chevron also bribed a witness with $2 million to claim that the judgment in Ecuador was "ghostwritten" – testimony that since has been proven false but was nontheless credited by Kaplan.
  • The bribed Chevron witness, Alberto Guerra, later admitted that he repeatedly lied under oath before Kaplan. Separately, a forensic examination by the American expert J. Christopher Racich demonstrated that the Ecuador trial judge wrote the decision on his office computer, contradicting Guerra's false claim that it had been given to the trial judge on a flash drive.
  • In total, 18 judges appellate judges in Ecuador and Canada have ruled in favor of the villagers and rejected Chevron's "fraud" claims. Yet Lowenstein refers only to a rogue decision from one U.S. judge who relied on false evidence for his findings in favor of the company. (The Second Circuit Court of Appeals refused to review those erroneous findings, as did the U.S. Supreme Court.) Lowenstein also ignores that 17 prominent human rights groups and 19 international law scholars have sided with the indigenous groups against Chevron.

Because of its corrupt acts and disdain for the rule of law, Chevron now finds itself in serious trouble. It faces possible criminal and civil jeopardy for its cover-up in addition to its $12 billion environmental liability (rising $300 million per year because of interest) to the people of Ecuador. Company management also faces a shareholder revolt over its unethical behavior.

Another big Lowenstein whopper before the Toronto appeals court came when he claimed that Donziger, one of the American lawyers for the villagers, "controls" monies that will be deposited in trust for a clean-up.The trust is actually controlled by the affected communities, not their lawyers.

Lowenstein's delightful little speech reminded us of the bit part played by a professor from Notre Dame who also allowed himself to be used by Chevron for money. That professor, Douglas Cassell, was slapped down by Notre Dame's administration for hiding the fact he was shilling for the oil giant while trying to act like a disinterested scholar. For background, see here.

The personal reputation of Lowenstein, and by extension that of the Osler partnership, is in play. The American law firm Gibson Dunn suffered a huge setback for its own unethical work of behalf of Chevron. Osler obviously is Chevron's answer to Gibson Dunn in Canada – a law firm with a willingness to cross the ethical line in "service" of a client engaging in criminal misconduct.

Lowenstein and his partners might make amends by disclosing how much the firm charges to engage in a representation that includes the distortion of facts and the misleading of courts on behalf of a human rights abuser.

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Us and Them: Affected Peoples vs. Chevron in Canada

Reposted from Eye on the Amazon


The latest chapter in the decades-long struggle seeking justice for Chevron's crimes in Ecuador is taking place in Canada right now. Unfortunately, as the years grind by the issues being debated get further and further away from the substantive problems of environmental contamination and human suffering, and the process becomes stuck in a legal quicksand of Chevron's design. The hearings before the Ontario Court of Appeals this week were a perfect example of that.

Amazon Watch continues to bear witness to this ongoing perversion of justice, both because we ourselves are a target of Chevron's attacks, and also because the cynical strategy the oil giant employs is a real and present danger to corporate accountability work everywhere. For that reason we attended the hearings in Toronto this week along with artist and activist Roger Waters, founding member of Pink Floyd. Waters spoke to the media to express his outrage at Chevron's endless legal maneuvers to escape justice for its crimes.

"It's a fundamental question of whether corporations like Chevron ... should be allowed to use their financial muscle to destroy people with an absolutely vital claim to reparations for damages that were caused to them over many years," Waters said before the hearing. "The way Chevron has behaved here is against everything that any of us might believe society ought to be like."

This week was supposed to see the beginning of the appeal of the previous decision in this case - which was mixed (upholding corporate separateness but granting the Ecuadorians the right to a trial to challenge Chevron's completely unfounded allegations of fraud). Instead the Ecuadorians were forced to confront Chevron's demand that the communities come up with almost $1 million as a security fee for the appeal to proceed. This is yet another legal delay tactic from Chevron in their never ending hope that the people they harmed will either give up, run out of funds, or simply die off before they can force Chevron to pay up.

In 2014, the Supreme Court of Canada ruled unanimously that the Ecuadorians could seek enforcement of the $9.5 billion verdict in Canada. Chevron's Canadian subsidiary, Chevron-Canada, holds approximately $15 billion in assets and since Chevron famously fled Ecuador with its assets to avoid paying (and invented an elaborate lie about fraud and bribery so they could countersue in the U.S. to make enforcement there very difficult), the Ecuadorians have been forced to pursue Chevron to Canada like a fugitive deadbeat.

Try to wrap your mind around this: the third largest corporation in the U.S., after spending billions to drag out a cut-and-dry case of deliberate environmental contamination for decades, is now demanding the the Ecuadorian communities pay $1 million for the right to an appeal which could finally permit seizure of their assets to pay for a clean-up.

To quote The Dark Side of the Moon: "And if your head explodes with dark forebodings, too..." yeah, that's an appropriate reaction at this point.

The lead lawyer for the Ecuadorians, Alan Lenczner, pointed out quite clearly that this was nothing more than a stunt by Chevron, stating that, "Chevron is one of largest companies in the world with over 1,500 subsidiaries, $225 billion in annual revenue, which is $1 billion a day for each working day, with a profit of $25 billion annually, working out to $1 million per DAY is hardly in need of protection!" In fact, just counting Chevron and Chevron-Canada's legal team in the room this week, there were at least twenty lawyers and their staff. The cost for their travel and billing right there is more than the security fund itself! That alone proves this is nothing but a punitive legal subterfuge, to our eyes.

But the hearing this week also had a new element which has previously played only a minor role in the several years this case has dragged on in Canada. The introduction of Peter Grant, a renowned Canadian aboriginal rights lawyer who recently helped to win a major case before the country's Supreme Court, had a profound impact on the proceedings. Peter made it clear to the appellate panel of Justices Hoy, Cronk, and Hourigan that this entire exercise was fundamentally an issue of access to justice for indigenous peoples. Grant, who had recently visited the Ecuadorian Amazon to witness the contamination along with Canadian indigenous leaders Phil Fontaine and Ed John and Greenpeace co-founder Rex Weyler, spoke with firsthand experience of what effect this order would have on the people still suffering today. This has even more resonance considering that Canada recently signed the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and there is much more respect in Canadian political discourse for indigenous peoples.

And that's the genuine issue that not only the Canadian appeals court but Chevron and its lawyers should be made to face every single day. People are still dying from the deliberate contamination caused by Chevron in the Amazon. This is not an historic case about reparation for past harms, but a very real and urgent need for clean-up today. Every day Chevron evades paying for that clean-up, more people in the region risk sickness and death. It must end here. As Roger Waters said, "if Chevron can go on fighting this for another twenty years, and they will if they can, what does that say about us as a human race, that we would allow such a thing? It says that we've lost our grip on the reins of civilization."

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Chevron CEO Watson Leaves a Legacy of Toxic Waste

Reposted from Eye on the Amazon

Wanted: Chevron CEO John Watson

After seven dreadful years, Chevron CEO John Watson recently made a surprise announcement that he is finally slinking off with his tail between his legs. Yet the world will continue to suffer from the disastrous effects of his terrible decisions for many years to come. Amazon Watch's history with Watson dates back to Chevron's merger with Texaco. John Watson was a principal architect of that merger, and at a Chevron shareholder meeting we presented him with a great deal of information about Texaco's environmental disaster in Ecuador and warned that if the merger went through then Chevron would necessarily assume all liability to clean up the worst oil-related disaster in history. Watson ignored us.

In 2010, Watson became CEO on the eve of the largest environmental judgment ever won against an oil company, in which Chevron was ordered to pay $9.5 billion to clean up Texaco's toxic mess. Chevron lost that trial after years of efforts to delay and derail it, and after thousands of pages of scientific evidence – much of which provided by Chevron's own experts – demonstrated the damage caused by Texaco's deliberate dumping and shoddy operations. At the time of that judgement, Watson had another chance to listen to the appeals of the people of Ecuador and finally do the right thing.

Not only did Watson refuse to take responsibility and clean up the toxic waste still poisoning these communities, but he focused the full weight of Chevron's legal and public relations might on demonizing the Ecuadorians and their lawyers, and he even countersued them, alleging extortion. The company is even seeking $32 million in legal fees in an attempt to personally bankrupt Steven Donziger, a key member of the legal team that achieved the historic judgment in Ecuador. We at Amazon Watch were pulled into Chevron's sham suit as an alleged "co-conspirator" for standing with the communities who sued to clean up their homes. It's estimated that, to date, Chevron has spent as much as $2 billion just to avoid cleaning up the toxic waste that Texaco admitted dumping in Ecuador.

In what some see as an existential threat to corporate accountability work in the U.S., Watson and his team also sought to trample the First Amendment rights of anyone who had ever dared to speak out about the company: journalists, bloggers, lawyers, advocacy organizations, activists, and even its own shareholders. Chevron's legal and public relations teams built a practice on intimidating its critics.

During his time as CEO, Chevron even approved payments to company witnesses and bribed them to falsify evidence and testimony in U.S. federal court. With these tactics, CEO Watson helped pave the way for a new wave of "racketeering" lawsuits that have since been filed by other corporations against a variety of environmental and human rights organizations, such as our friends at Greenpeace and the Sierra Club.

Under Watson's misleadership, Chevron has distinguished itself as the worst U.S. oil company by eliminating its renewable energy program, closing its corporate social responsibility department, and attempting to influence politics by spending more on super-PACs than any other corporation immediately after the Citizens United decision.

In short, it would be hard for Chevron to do worse than Watson and we are thrilled to see him go. The company is still facing a collection action in Canada for its $9.5 billion debt to the people of Ecuador. A new CEO will have an opportunity to finally break with Chevron's abusive past and respect the rule of law and the environment.

Watson spent his time as CEO trying to make it harder for the environmental and human rights community to challenge corporate power, but we stand united and will continue to hold Chevron to account, no matter who is at the helm.

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Chevron CEO Watson Tarred His Own Legacy by Fumbling Environmental Issues

Reposted from The Chevron Pit.

Burdened with a series of intractable problems, Chevron CEO John Watson announced this week that he is stepping down after seven years at the helm of America's second-largest energy company. He will be remembered far more for saddling Chevron with huge environmental liabilities than for delivering value to shareholders.

Watson's legacy is to leave Chevron with a bleak long-term prognosis. While the fossil fuel industry faces unprecedented structural pressures, Chevron is arguably in a worse position than its peers. Watson made a disastrous bet in Australia on the Gorgon natural gas project, a move that landed him in major trouble with tax authorities and saddled Chevron with at least $20 billion in cost overruns.

But let's focus on Watson's most obvious mistake, Ecuador.

Ecuador is the place where Watson literally has blood on his hands for failing to address the fallout from Texaco's deliberate dumping of billions of gallons of toxic waste into the rainforest when it operated six huge oil fields from 1964 to 1992. The dumping -- called the Amazon Chernobyl by locals -- decimated indigenous nationalities and continues to kill scores of innocent people as confirmed by multiple academic studies and various court rulings.

While Chevron left Ecuador in 1992, the company's toxic legacy -- including roughly 1,000 open-air toxic waste pits -- continues to cause grievous harm to the local population. Under Watson's recommendation, Chevron bought Texaco in 2001 and now owns the Ecuador problem.

A successful litigation brought by local communities to repair the damage has captured the imagination of the world. The legal battle led to a $9.5 billion judgment in Ecuador in the venue where Chevron accepted jurisdiction and where it had insisted the trial be held. Chevron could have settled the claims for a relative pittance years ago. But under Watson, the Ecuador liability has now ballooned to $12 billion (with interest) in Canada, where the villagers are enforcing their judgment.

In Canada, the country's Supreme Court in 2015 unanimously backed an effort to try to seize Chevron assets to pay for the clean-up. Major international law scholars and civil society organizations, including Amazon Watch, also have backed the villagers.

Watson was the Chevron executive in charge of merging with Texaco back in 2001. At the time, environmental groups such as Amazon Watch warned him about the massive pending liability in Ecuador; he ignored the warnings, which perhaps explains why he doubled down and started attacking his victims and their lawyers. He also ordered a $2 million payment be made to a witness to lie in order to help the company cover-up its disastrous policy.

At the time Watson was director of Chevron's acquisitions, Chevron grossly overpaid for Texaco's assets given that there was no accounting for the Ecuador clean-up costs. But arrogance is Watson's hallmark personality trait.

Angry at being challenged by shareholders and activists, Watson and his General Counsel R. Hewitt Pate launched the most expensive corporate "defense" in history. They threatened the Ecuadorian villagers with a "lifetime of litigation" if they persisted. They had five shareholders arrested at an annual meeting after they challenged the company's Ecuador policy. Chevron's lawyers even fabricated evidence to secure a favorable "judgment" in a farcical non-jury trial in U.S. federal court, making a mockery of justice in the process.

A Chevron official wrote an email saying Watson's main litigation strategy was to "demonize" Steven Donziger, the tenacious Harvard-educated human rights lawyer who has led the fight against Chevron for years. Donziger personally deposed Watson in 2013 in New York. Although the pro-Chevron judge sealed the deposition -- a ridiculous and unnecessary move -- we can assert with certainty that Watson came across as an angry and petty man.

Watson even told Forbes he would stop the Ecuador litigation only when Donziger and the lawyers "give up" and quit the case. That's an intimidation strategy, not a litigation strategy worthy of a major public company that purports to behave ethically.

Watson tapped into shareholder resources to hire at least 2,000 lawyers and 60 law firms to try to beat back the courageous indigenous villagers -- another massive cost suck that suggests Gorgon was not Watson's only spending problem. In his latest maneuver, Watson has ordered his lawyers to illegally try to collect $32 million in legal fees from longtime nemesis Donziger.

Chevron's refinery in the California town of Richmond is another example of Watson's short-sightedness. Major fires at the refinery have spewed so much toxic waste that 15,000 local residents have been forced to receive medical attention. Rather than shut down or at least update the refinery, Watson tried to take over the town by financing a slate of candidates for city council while secretly funding an on-line newspaper to spew pro-Chevron propaganda.

Under Watson's leadership, Chevron has tried to buy its way out of its litigation problems by spending heavily in the political world rather than compensate the company's victims. Watson ordered Chevron to be a major donor to the Trump inauguration and other Koch-funded initiatives designed to increase corporate power. Watson also donated millions of Chevron dollars to the Clinton Foundation and the U.S. State Department during the Obama Administration at the same time his team was inappropriately lobbying to try to kill off the Ecuador liability.

Watson was willing to take extraordinary risks for the leader of a public company. His corrupt witness payments to Guerra and another Chevron employee, the infamous Diego Borja, continue to this day. With Watson's blessing, Chevron also spent at least $15 million on the corporate espionage firm Kroll to spy on Donziger and his colleagues and to try to enlist independent journalists to go undercover in Ecuador on the company's behalf.

Chevron's next CEO will need to clean up Watson's dastardly mess in Ecuador. Indigenous people are still dying in the Amazon because of the company's failure to address its toxic legacy. It's long past time for Chevron's Board to admit that Watson only has made matters worse both for the people of Ecuador and the company's own shareholders.

Monday, August 14, 2017

Haunted by Ecuador Judgment, Chevron Now Trying To Impose $32 Million "Fine" on Lawyer Who Beat It in Court

Reposted from The Chevron Pit.

While fossil fuel giant Chevron still refuses to pay its $12 billion environmental judgment to the indigenous groups it poisoned in Ecuador, company CEO John Watson apparently has found the time to try to impose a massive $32 million liability on the solo human rights lawyer who beat his company in court.

As background, it is undeniable that Harvard Law grad and American human rights advocate Steven Donziger did something so extraordinary to hold Chevron accountable for its environmental crimes that Watson decided to launch a crusade against him. Working against huge odds with a team of Ecuadorian rainforest leaders and local lawyers, Donziger spent eight years (2003 to 2011) coordinating the litigation in Ecuador against Chevron over the deliberate dumping of billions of gallons of chemical-laced oil waste into the rainforest. The case took place in Ecuador at Chevron's insistence and the company accepted jurisdiction there.

After overcoming Chevron's repeated attempts to sabotage the proceeding, a court in 2011 found the company guilty and imposed a $19 billion judgment that was halved when a punitive damages penalty was struck. (The amount is now $12 billion because of interest.) It is without doubt the largest environmental judgment in history from a single court case. Chevron's toxic dumping in Ecuador decimated indigenous groups and caused an outbreak of cancer that has killed or threatens to kill thousands of innocent people. Locals call the catastrophe the "Amazon Chernobyl; this photo essay by acclaimed journalist Lou Demettais captures the brutal human cost of what can only be described as a deliberate act of industrial homicide.

The Ecuador trial-level decision against Chevron  -- based on voluminous evidence including 105 technical evidentiary reports -- was affirmed unanimously by two separate appellate courts in Ecuador, including by the country's Supreme Court. Not even Chevron disputes that it dumped the toxic waste or that it was the exclusive operator of the oil fields. But to evade paying the judgment from its preferred forum, Chevron tried to cover up its criminal misconduct.

Chevron hired 60 law firms and roughly 2,000 lawyers and investigators in part to cook up fake evidence to file a "racketeering" (or RICO) case against Donziger, Ecuadorian lawyer Pablo Fajardo, community leader Luis Yanza, and all 47 of the courageous villagers from the affected area who stepped forward as class representatives. As part of its intimidation model, Chevron General Counsel R. Hewitt Pate promised the indigenous groups and their lawyers a "lifetime of litigation" if they persisted.

Part of that model was to retaliate against Donziger personally back in New York federal court in an unprecedented collateral attack on a foreign judgment. Another Chevron goal was to use the retaliation case to try to intimidate lawyers and supporters of the villagers with the threat of harassing lawsuits. Chevron also peddled its false narrative from the case to the financial markets to distract from the Ecuador liability and to prop up the company's stock price.

A distinguished member of two bar associations, Donziger is a solo practitioner who along with environmental groups such as Amazon Watch and shareholder activist Simon Billenness has driven the accountability campaign against Chevron for over two decades.

Described as a man of "Herculean tenacity" by Bloomberg, Donziger is also known for creating a new human rights funding paradigm that has allowed the impoverished indigenous groups of Ecuador to sustain their case for years against one of the world's richest companies. The private financing model alone surely terrifies Chevron. Fossil fuel companies are not used to their victims being represented by top-flight litigators like Canada's Alan Lenczner or Brazil's Sergio Bermudes, who are trying to seize Chevron assets to force it to comply with the rule of law and pay the judgment.

If Chevron's so-called "retaliation" case against Donziger and the Ecuadorians was designed to silence their campaign, it obviously failed. Left with little to show for its massive expenditures on RICO given that the villagers are successfully enforcing their judgment in Canada -- with the Canada Supreme Court already ruling in their favor -- Chevron is now trying to "punish" Donziger back home. (For more on Chevron's difficulties in Canada from the Ecuador liability, see here.)

Chevron's attacks only serve to underscore the extent of the bullying approach being used. In fact, it is no less than staggering to see the extent of Chevron's cowardice in the context of its attacks against Donziger and the Ecuadorian indigenous groups. These attacks happened after Chevron sold off all of its assets in Ecuador as the evidence against it mounted.

Chevron generates revenue at roughly $200 billion per annum and pays its top lawyers at the firm Gibson Dunn $1,500 per hour; Donziger lives and works out of a small apartment in Manhattan while most of his clients are lucky to make $200 monthly. When Donziger and the villagers challenged Chevron's claim that the entire Ecuador lawsuit was "sham" litigation, the company dropped part of its claim to avoid producing internal documents related to its toxic dumping. (See here and here for articles Donziger has written about the case of the indigenous groups against Chevron.)

After having sued Donziger for roughly $60 billion, Chevron dropped all damages claims on the eve of trial in what can only be described as a bombshell retreat to avoid a jury of impartial fact finders. While that move took away any remaining legitimacy from Chevron's bogus case, it did allow the proceeding to be tried alone by a pro-corporate judge (Lewis A. Kaplan) who repeatedly made comments from the bench that the villagers interpreted as racist. Chevron also hired the corporate espionage firm Kroll to spy on Donziger while deploying at least 114 lawyers to fight him in court.

Under the U.S. Constitution, anybody sued for money damages has the right to a trial by jury. By dropping its damages claims out of fear Donziger would defeat its lawyers before a jury, Chevron bailed on the main part of its case to leave the dirty work to Judge Kaplan. One of Kaplan's first moves was to exclude the scientific evidence of pollution used to convict Chevron in Ecuador.

Judge Kaplan also prevented Donziger from telling his side of the story in open court as part of a series of rulings that seemed more in sync with a judicial apparatchik in Putin's Russia than a neutral federal judge. For a comprehensive summary of how Chevron made a mockery of justice in Kaplan's court, see here and read Donziger's appellate brief. Prominent attorney John Keker also accused Kaplan of showing "implacable hostility" toward Donziger and allowing the matter to "degenerate into a Dickensian farce" unworthy of any civilized country.

Chevron also used the Kaplan proceeding to unveil a new corporate playbook: invest massive sums to try to weaponize the American civil justice system to flog those holding it accountable. Chevron issued subpoenas to more than 100 environmental activists, bloggers, and academics who had some connection to the Ecuadorian communities. Yet at bottom Chevron had nothing other than a series of procedural complaints about the conduct of the Ecuador trial that already had been either corrected or rejected by Ecuador's courts.

With virtually nothing to work with, Chevron's lawyers became so desperate that they paid an admittedly corrupt Ecuadorian witness at least $2 million in cash and benefits to lie in Kaplan's court. That witness, Alberto Guerra, claimed Chevron lost the case because Donziger had arranged for a bribe to be paid to the trial judge so that his Ecuadorian legal team could "ghostwrite" the judgment. Guerra's claims have been thoroughly debunked by scientific evidence and rejected by three layers of courts in Ecuador, and by two appellate courts in Canada. Guerra later admitted under oath that he had lied repeatedly on the stand before Kaplan.

Kangaroo proceedings clearly produce kangaroo results that continue to haunt Chevron.

Chevron CEO Watson and his besieged General Counsel R. Hewitt Pate still stand by the fake "bribe" story. They pump millions of dollars of company funds into the Gibson Dunn law firm to propagate the core falsehood. Kaplan also refuses to set aside his ludicrous decision that the Ecuador judgment was obtained by fraud even though Chevron's case has fallen apart, potentially exposing the company and its lawyers to criminal liability.

The campaign against Donziger has become such an obsession to Watson and his management team that it threatens a serious blowback. Watson and Pate essentially have bet their jobs on the RICO case given the massive investment of resources in fabricating false evidence and attacking the human rights community. Major Chevron investors are furious and shareholder resolutions connected to the Ecuador liability have received widespread support in recent years.

Given that Chevron caved when it came time to test its evidence before a jury, the company is now trying to paralyze Donziger on the back end by insisting he pay the company $32 million to cover a small part of its legal fees in creating the sham allegations. The effort  is a clear violation of the RICO law and the Constitution, as this court submission by Donziger points out. Simply put, there is no legal authority for Chevron to collect legal fees after it fabricated evidence and denied its adversary a jury.

In what can only be described as a situation that evokes shades of modern-day Russia, the same pro-Chevron judge in the U.S. (Kaplan) who already refused to hear evidence that Chevron defrauded the court to frame Donziger now gets to hear the motion to force Donziger to pay Chevron's fees for the work of its lawyers in framing him. That's not how the rule of law is supposed to be administered in a society with an independent judiciary.

(If you think the Russia comparison is inapt, read about a Russian lawyer named Magnitsky who was framed by multiple judges with fake evidence when he uncovered a massive tax fraud a few years ago. The book Red Notice by the American Bill Browder is the best account.)

Chevron's plan to try to use the case to isolate Donziger and his allies in the environmental community also has backfired. The villagers and their lawyers continue to garner deep support around the world. Among those in their camp are a brave U.S. Congressmaninternational law experts from nine countries, 17 environmental and human rights groupsmembers of the European Parliament, and artists such as actor and producer Trudie Styler and Sting.

A retaliatory legal action so petty and desperate from one of the world's largest corporations against a brave lawyer who stood up to Chevron's 2,000-person team would be hard to find in the history of America. The attacks against Donziger decidedly will not help Chevron diminish its growing risk from the Ecuador judgment. And we will see if the beleaguered Chevron legal team at Chevron's outside law firm of Gibson Dunn -- which had marketed itself as a "rescue squad" to save Chevron from the Ecuador liability -- will be able to survive its growing reputation as a serial ethical violator and fake fraud-producer for clients guilty of scandalous behavior.

Besides confronting a fading a business model in a world transitioning to clean energy, there is little doubt Chevron and other oil companies collectively face more than one trillion dollars of unbooked liability for causing environmental damage over many decades. The Ecuador judgment could be the first of many to come. Hence, the massive expenditures to try to kill off the Ecuador case continue.

Donziger and the Ecuadorian villagers have a $12 billion judgment against Chevron. If Chevron succeeds in obtaining a $32 million judgment against one lawyer who has little chance of paying even a small fraction of it, so be it. Anyone keeping score realizes that Chevron is getting devastated.

Chevron's latest attack on Donziger also underscores that bullying often trumps serious merits-based litigation at the highest levels of the fossil fuel industry. Chevron's attempts to defame its victims will not play well in Canada in the upcoming trial to enforce the Ecuador judgment. Chevron has an estimated $25 billion of assets in Canada or more than enough to pay the entirety of the amount it owes to the people it harmed in Ecuador.

The Canada trial likely will result in a remediation paid by Chevron of a humanitarian disaster that never had to happen. Now that it has, Chevron needs to stop presenting fake evidence to courts and cheating the people it poisoned in Ecuador.