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Chevron Wins RICO Case against Conniving Tort Kingpin

New York federal District Judge Lewis Kaplan today issued his long awaited verdict in Chevron v. Donziger and, as expected, it is an encouraging win for the energy giant and a crushing loss for a once high-flying, if conniving, tort kingpin.

As reported by the Wall Street Journal, New York lawyer Steven Donziger and his litigation team were found to have “engaged in coercion, bribery, money laundering and other criminal conduct in pursuit of” a multibillion-dollar 2011 verdict in Ecuador, wherein allegations of environmental damages were leveled against Chevron.  Today’s thorough, 485-page opinion bars Donziger and his two co-defendants from profiting by that verdict.

“The wrongful actions of Donziger and his Ecuadorian legal team would be offensive to the laws of any nation that aspires to the rule of law, including Ecuador–and they knew it,” wrote Judge Kaplan, adding that Donziger had “perverted” justice.

“Those of us who have closely followed this case can’t say we’re surprised by the verdict,” said the American Tort Reform Association’s Darren McKinney, “but many of us are certainly delighted by it.  And we hope it will encourage other defendant companies that have been victimized by fraudulent lawsuits to fight back with RICO suits of their own.  Since state bar associations, state attorneys general and the Department of Justice appear to have little interest in punishing those who perpetrate brazen fraud on our civil courts, private sector companies such as Chevron, CSX, Feld Entertainment and Garlock are bravely forging a new path, using the RICO statute, to pursue just punishment themselves.”

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