February 12, 2009 / 6:14 PM / 11 years ago

UPDATE 1-Chevron asks Ecuador judge to drop damages claim

SAN FRANCISCO, Feb 12 (Reuters) - Chevron Corp (CVX.N) has asked the judge in a long-running environmental damages case in Ecuador to discard a claim for $27 billion submitted by a court-appointed expert last year, the U.S. oil company said on Thursday.

Chevron reiterated its criticism of geologist Richard Cabrera’s methods in calculating the figure and again questioned his independence, charging the plaintiffs with helping him produce his assessment. Cabrera had submitted an earlier damages estimate of $8 billion to $16 billion.

One of the plaintiffs’ lawyers said previously that the party requesting technical work has to pay for it, and denied helping Cabrera produce the report.

The lawsuit, which peasants and Indians in Ecuador brought in the early 1990s, contends that Texaco, which Chevron bought in 2001, polluted the jungle and damaged their health by dumping 18 billion gallons (68 billion liters) of contaminated water from 1972 to 1992.

Chevron, based in San Ramon, California, has argued that it was released from any liability because it paid $40 million for an environmental cleanup in the 1990s, and blames state oil company Petroecuador for much of the pollution.

Plaintiffs expect a final ruling on the case in 2009. (Reporting by Braden Reddall; editing by Richard Chang)

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