A New York federal judge ruled Monday that Chevron can sue Washington, DC’s Patton Boggs for allegedly committing fraud while trying to enforce a multibillion-dollar judgment for environmental damage in Ecuador.
U.S. District Judge Lewis Kaplan said Chevron could bring claims against Patton Boggs for fraud, malicious prosecution, and making false statements to the New York court during the litigation between the U.S. oil firm and one of Washington’s best-known law and lobbying firms.
“We look forward to litigating Chevron’s counterclaim against Patton Boggs and holding that firm accountable for its role in trying to enforce this travesty of justice in Ecuador,” said Randy Mastro, Chevron’s outside counsel and a partner at Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher.
Patton Boggs said in a statement that the charges “are baseless and unlikely ever to proceed to litigation on the merits.”
The statement said the firm believes it “acted ethically and properly in assisting these communities” in Ecuador.
Mastro did not say what amount Chevron would claim in damages against Patton Boggs.
Judge Kaplan said Chevron could seek compensatory and punitive damages.
Last month, Chevron won a Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) case against Steven Donziger, the American lawyer who represented Ecuadorean villagers in the 20-year case against Chevron. In that case, Judge Kaplan found that Donziger won a legal judgment in Ecuador that eventually amounted to $9 billion by paying bribes and committing fraud.
After the RICO court victory, Chevron asked for $32 million in damages from Donziger for some of its legal fees.
Chevron could ask for that amount or more from Patton Boggs.