Steven Donziger, the New York lawyer who won a $9.5 billion environmental verdict in Ecuador against Chevron Corp., has hired a new laywer to help him fight Chevron’s allegations in the U.S. that he used fraud and racketeering to secure the huge verdict.
Chevron alleges Donziger engaged in witness tampering and fabrication of evidence in their 20-year legal battle.
Both sides are waiting for a decision on Chevron’s allegations by U.S. District Judge Lewis Kaplan.
Donziger denies Chevron’s claims that he used fraud in the Ecuador case. But he said he expects to lose the ruling in Judge Kaplan’s court.
Chevron wants an injunction barring Donziger and others from enforcing the Ecuador verdict in courts anywhere else in the world.
Donziger represented a group of Amazon residents who alleged that Texaco, which Chevron acquired in 2001, contaminated large areas of rain forest between 1964 and 1992 before ending its operations and leaving the country.
Last week, Donziger hired Washington, D.C. heavy-weight lawyer Deepak Gupta to lead any eventual appeal of Judge Kaplan’s ruling.
Gupta founded Gupta Beck PLLC. He’s appeared in high-profile consumar protection cases, including some before the U.S. Supreme Court.
He worked at the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau 2011 and 2012 and spent seven years as an attorney for the Public Citizen Litigation Group.
“I could not be more proud to be representing Steven Donziger as his lead appellate counsel,” said Gupta, in a statement. “For anyone who cares about the rule of law, Chevron’s retaliatory RICO action should be deeply troubling.”
A Chevron spokesman told the Wall Street Journal by email that Donziger was “resorting to his old playbook: try the case in the media and pressure government officials to intervene in the process. It’s unfortunate that well-intentioned NGOs are allowing themselves to be used in this manner.”