Law firm fires back at Chevron in Ecuador case

Tue Feb 8, 2011 12:39am GMT
 

* Patton Boggs accuses Chevron of "smear campaign"-filing

* Latest salvo in multibillion-dollar environmental case

* Hearing in Chevron racketeering case set for Tuesday

SAN FRANCISCO, Feb 7 (Reuters) - A prominent U.S. law firm accused Chevron Corp (CVX.N: Quote) of mounting a "smear campaign" aimed at keeping it out of a high stakes Ecuadorean environmental pollution case.

The accusation, contained in court documents filed on Monday by Patton Boggs of Washington, D.C., comes a day before a hearing on a new civil racketeering lawsuit by Chevron against Ecuadorean plaintiffs seeking more than $27 billion in damages from the oil giant. [ID:nN01133100]

The Ecuadorean plaintiffs started their litigation in 1993 against Texaco -- bought by Chevron in 2001. They accuse it of dumping oil-drilling waste in unlined pits, contaminating the forest and causing illnesses and deaths among local people.

A judge in Ecuador is expected to make a final ruling in the coming months. [ID:nN31241727]

In the court filings on Monday, Patton Boggs asked a federal judge in Washington, D.C. to allow it to bring tortious interference claims against Chevron and its outside counsel, Gibson Dunn & Crutcher.

"Chevron and Gibson Dunn have repeated and embellished a fabricated storyline attempting to implicate Patton Boggs in a variety of fraudulent activities," Patton Boggs said in the filing.

Gibson Dunn partner Theodore Boutrous Jr. called the Patton Boggs filing "frivolous and incoherent," adding that Gibson Dunn's efforts have revealed overwhelming evidence of a scheme to defraud Chevron. A representative for Chevron could not immediately comment.

Chevron is attempting to disqualify Patton Boggs from a related proceeding, arguing that the law firm never obtained proper permission from the Ecuadoreans to enter the case. [ID:nN28238709]

The case in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia is Patton Boggs LLP v. Chevron Corp., 10-cv-1975. (Reporting by Dan Levine; Editing by Steve Orlofsky)

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