U.S. lawyer Steven Donziger

Lawyer Steven Donziger appealed a federal court ruling that he used fraud and bribery to win a multibillion-dollar pollution judgment against Chevron in Ecuador.

On Tuesday, Donziger, an American lawyer who acts for villagers in northeastern Ecuador, also asked U.S. District Judge Lewis Kaplan to put his ruling on hold during the appeal, which is likely to take months or years.

Earlier this month, Judge Kaplan in New York said he found “clear and convincing evidence” that a two-decade legal effort to punish Chevron for polluting the Ecuadorean rain forest was tainted by corruption.

The judge said evidence showed that Donziger and his legal team bribed an Ecuadorean judge to issue an $18 billion judgment against the oil company in 2011.

Ecuador’s high court cut the judgment down to $9.5 billion in 2013.

The Ecuadorean villagers argued that Texaco, before being bought by Chevron, polluted the rain forest by spilling millions of gallons of toxic wastewater into the Ecuadorean Amazon between 1964 and 1992.

Chevron accused Donziger of fraud and racketeering.

Chevron’s main witness in the U.S. trial against Donziger was a former Ecuadorean judge who testified that he was paid $1,000 a month to ghost-write favorable opinions for the presiding judge, Nicolas Zambrano.

The witness also testified that Judge Zambrano told him Donziger would pay Zambrano $500,000 of the eventual damages as long as he agreed to a favorable verdict.

In Tuesday’s court filing, Donziger claimed Kaplan’s ruling was unlikely to survive review from the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

“This court’s decision in this case is without precedent,” Donziger argued. “It seeks to preemptively undermine the judicial decree of a foreign sovereign nation and, in so doing, to let Chevron Corporation off the hook for decades of deliberate pollution in the Amazon rainforest.”

Chevron spokesperson Morgan Crinklaw said, “This is yet another attempt by Steven Donziger to evade the court’s well-supported findings and avoid taking responsibility for his actions. [Judge Kaplan’s] nearly 500-page opinion and judgment capture in extraordinary detail the defendants’ unlawful scheme.”

Donziger has denied Chevron’s bribery and fraud allegations.


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