The U.S. Supreme Court recently made the decision not to hear the case against the Chevron Oil Company made by villagers in Ecuador that claim the company is evading the payment of $8.65 billion (U.S.) for a pollution judgement against it in that country.
The Supreme Court turned away an appeal by U.S. based lawyers for the Ecuador villagers that have spent more than two decades trying to hold Chevron responsible for pollution in that country.
Chevron, in its defence, did not dispute that pollution occurred but claimed it was not liable for it. According to a news report in Reuters, the company claims that the environmental report was biased and the presiding judge in the case in Ecuador was bribed. Chevron’s claim is backed up by lower court rulings in the United States. In 2014, a U.S. District Court Judge barred enforcement of the ruling made in Ecuador citing the corruption used to obtain it. A similar ruling was made by the New York-based 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.
Contamination of the soil and water of the Ecuador rain forest was caused by Texaco when it operated in the country between 1964 and 1992. The villagers claim that Texaco dumped billions of litres of toxic oil-drilling waters into hundreds of open-air pits. Chevron acquired Texaco in 2001. Prior to acquiring Texaco, Chevron signed an agreement in 1998 with the Ecuador government absolving it of any further liability.
The lawyers for Ecuador villagers vow that they will seek a court ruling in Canada. However, a January 2017 ruling by the Ontario superior court ruled that Chevron’s Canadian arm isn’t a party to the Ecuadorian court decision. The lawyers for the Ecuador villagers are appealing the decision.