* Villagers want Ecuador ruling enforced in Canada
* Chevron says Canada court does not have jurisdiction
* Company disputes $19 bln judgment against it
By Julie Gordon
TORONTO, Nov 29 Lawyers for Chevron Corp
asked an Ontario judge on Thursday to toss out a bid by Amazon
villagers to seize its Canadian assets to help pay a $19 billion
award granted by an Ecuadorean court in decades-old pollution
The hearing marks the first time the plaintiffs, 47 Amazon
villagers, have sought to persuade a foreign court to collect
damages awarded to them for environmental contamination in the
South American country dating back to the 1960s. Chevron
Canada's assets are worth more than $12 billion, the plaintiffs
Chevron, the No. 2 U.S. oil company, has steadfastly refused
to pay the award, saying the February 2011 ruling by the
Ecuadorean court was influenced by fraud and bribery.
At the hearing in Toronto, lawyers told an Ontario
provincial court that the Canadian subsidiary - rather than the
California-based parent - owns all of Chevron's assets in
Canada. The company also argued that there is no tangible
connection between Chevron Canada and the Ecuadorean villagers.
"There is simply no suggestion, let alone evidence, that
Chevron Canada ... had anything to do with what did or did not
happen in Ecuador," said Clarke Hunter, lawyer for the company.
Lawyers for the plaintiffs were not immediately for comment.
They will present their case to the court on Friday.
The action is the latest skirmish in an two-decade conflict
between Chevron and residents of Ecuador's Lago Agrio region
over claims that Texaco, which Chevron acquired in 2001,
contaminated the area from 1964 to 1992.
The dispute has spawned litigation in numerous courts both
inside and outside the United States. The oil industry is
watching the case closely because the outcome may affect other
cases accusing companies of polluting the areas where they
Early in the proceedings on Thursday, the Ontario Superior
Court judge hearing the case questioned whether he should even
be considering the issue, as the Ecuadorean decision is now the
subject of an appeal in the Andean nation's constitutional
"Is there a final order from the Ecuadorean courts that this
court can consider," Justice David Brown asked Chevron's
attorney. "We don't look at stuff unless there is a final
In October, Chevron lost a U.S. Supreme Court bid to block
the Ecuadorean judgment.
The Supreme Court of Canada has ruled the country's courts
can recognize and enforce foreign judgments in cases where there
is a "reasonable and substantial connection" between the cause
of the action and the foreign court.
The plaintiffs are seeking remedies in Brazil and Argentina
in addition to Canada.
Chevron Canada's assets include interests in offshore oil
projects in the North Atlantic, including Hibernia and Hebron, a
20 percent interest in the Shell-operated Athabasca Oil
Sands Project. The company also has a lubricants business in
Shares of Chevron rose 0.2 percent to $105.79 on Thursday in
trading on the New York Stock Exchange.
Proceedings in the case - Chevron v Ecuador CV-12-454778 -
are expected to wrap up on Friday.