| NEW YORK
NEW YORK Nov 12 Chevron Corp is
bringing its enormous resources to bear in a court case in New
York in which it has accused a U.S. lawyer of using fraud to win
a $19 billion environmental judgment against it.
The judgment was made by an Ecuadorean court to a group of
affected villagers in 2011. Chevron has asked the U.S. District
Court in Manhattan to prevent the villagers and the U.S. lawyer
who helped them, Steven Donziger, from collecting the award.
Donziger has denied using fraud to obtain the judgment.
Chevron, which rested its case on Tuesday, has brought a
series of expert witnesses from the fields of linguistics,
psychology and computer science to testify in the case over the
past four weeks.
The star witness was Alberto Guerra, a former Ecuadorean
judge who said he was paid by lawyers for the villagers to
ghostwrite rulings for the judge in the case.
Donziger was aware of the arrangement, he said.
"Mr. Donziger thanked me for the work that I was going to
do," Guerra said.
Lawyers for Donziger said Guerra's testimony cannot be
credited because Chevron paid to relocate his family and has
covered his living and housing expenses.
The judge who made the award, Nicolas Zambrano, also
appeared as a witness for Chevron.
Zambrano said he authored every word of the 188-page opinion
on his own. But Chevron, with a small army of lawyers from top
law firm Gibson Dunn & Crutcher, raised several apparent
inconsistencies in his testimony.
When asked how he was able to cite both French and English
case law in his 188-page decision, despite speaking neither
language, Zambrano said an assistant found the citations online
Other witnesses included experts who said that Zambrano's
opinion contained material from Donziger's files and that
Zambrano could not possibly have reviewed hundreds of thousands
of documents in the case in the time frame he claimed.
And a U.S. lawyer who worked on the Ecuador case, Jeffrey
Shinder, testified that he pulled out of the case after only a
few days when he learned that an expert's report on Chevron's
liability was ghostwritten.
Donziger's much smaller defense team began putting on his
case on Tuesday.
The first witness, Donald Moncayo, who worked for the
plaintiffs, said on Tuesday morning that he saw Chevron lawyers
in Ecuador meet in private with judges, in an apparent effort to
show that Chevron did not act properly during the Ecuadorean
Other scheduled defense witnesses include Zambrano's
assistant, Evelyn Calva, who has said she took dictation and
observed him coming up with the decision entirely on his own.
Donziger, who was not present in court on Tuesday, is also
expected to testify.
The case stems from pollution between 1964 and 1992 at an
oil field operated by Texaco, which was acquired by Chevron in
2001. Zambrano awarded $18 billion to residents of Lago Agrio in
2011, and the amount was later increased to $19 billion to cover
Because Chevron no longer has assets in Ecuador, the
villagers have tried to seek enforcement of the judgment outside
the country, resulting in the action by Chevron.
Defense lawyers have complained that U.S. District Judge
Lewis Kaplan, who is presiding over the trial without a jury, is
biased against them.
Chevron will call one more witness out of order on Thursday
because of scheduling issues. The witness, Joshua Lipton, is the
president of Stratus Consulting, which Chevron has accused of
ghostwriting the report to which Shinder referred in his
The case is Chevron Corp v. Steven Donziger et al, U.S.
District Court for the Southern District of New York, No.