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Crude accumulates in the Amazon rainforest in Ecuador. (Photo: Rainforest Action Network/flickr/cc)

'Justice Denied' as Court Sides with Chevron in Amazon Pollution Case

U.S. decision 'dealt a blow against free speech & corporate accountability everywhere,' Amazon Watch tweeted

Nadia Prupis

A U.S. appeals court on Monday "inexplicably" sided with oil giant Chevron in a massive case over its legacy of pollution in the Amazon.

Chevron persuaded the court to block enforcement of an $8.65 billion judgment delivered by Ecuador against the energy company for rainforest damage.

The three-judge panel of the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New York agreed with a March 2014 ruling  by U.S. District Judge Lewis A. Kaplan that found the judgment had been obtained through bribery, coercion, and fraud—a decision that astonished environmental rights activists following the case.

The decision is unlikely to end the legal battle altogether, however, as the court also noted that Kaplan's ruling did not invalidate the Ecuadorean judgment or prevent its enforcement outside of the United States.

Karen Hinton, the American spokesperson for the Ecuadoreans, called it "a sad day for the U.S. justice system."

"As disappointed as we are, this ruling will not deter the Ecuadoreans, their lawyers and their supporters from aggressively seeking justice in Canada and in other countries where litigation is underway to seize Chevron assets," Hinton said.

In a tweet, the activist group Amazon Watch stated, "Justice denied as US Appeals court inexplicably upholds verdict based on bribed testimony & sides w/gross polluter @chevron over Ecuadorians."

Calling the decision "absurd," the group also said it "dealt a blow against free speech & corporate accountability everywhere."

The lawyer in the case, U.S.-based Steven Donziger, has attempted to hold Chevron accountable for water and soil contamination in the Amazon from 1964 to 1992. He has chased after the fossil fuel giant for more than two decades.

An attorney for Donziger, Deepak Gupta, said Monday, "Never before has a U.S. court allowed someone who lost a case in another country to come to the U.S. to attack a foreign court's damages award. The decision hands well-heeled corporations a template for avoiding legal accountability anywhere in the world. And it throws the entire international judgment enforcement framework out the window."


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80+ US Prosecutors Vow Not to Be Part of Criminalizing Abortion Care

"Criminalizing and prosecuting individuals who seek or provide abortion care makes a mockery of justice," says a joint statement signed by 84 elected attorneys. "Prosecutors should not be part of that."

Kenny Stancil ·


Progressives Rebuke Dem Leadership as Clyburn Dismisses Death of Roe as 'Anticlimactic'

"The gap between the Democratic leadership, and younger progressives on the question of 'How Bad Is It?' is just enormous."

Julia Conley ·


In 10 Key US Senate Races, Here's How Top Candidates Responded to Roe Ruling

While Republicans unanimously welcomed the Supreme Court's rollback of half a century of reproductive rights, one Democrat said "it's just wrong that my granddaughter will have fewer freedoms than my grandmother did."

Brett Wilkins ·


Sanders Says End Filibuster to Combat 'Outrageous' Supreme Court Assault on Abortion Rights

"If Republicans can end the filibuster to install right-wing judges to overturn Roe v. Wade, Democrats can and must end the filibuster, codify Roe v. Wade, and make abortion legal and safe," said the Vermont senator.

Jake Johnson ·


Patients in Trigger-Ban States Immediately Denied Abortion Care in Post-Roe US

Some people scheduled to receive abortions were turned away within minutes of the right-wing Supreme Court's decision to strike down Roe v. Wade.

Kenny Stancil ·

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