Chevron Corp. v. Donziger

The Canadian Bar Association (CBA) is the prime industry group for Canadian lawyers coast to coast. In essence the CBA is an advocacy group that also provides its members with continuing legal education and networking opportunities. It has 37,000 members, so it speaks for a lot of Canadian lawyers.

Let’s move half a world south to the Lago Agrio region of Ecuador. An energy giant, Chevron, apparently caused a bit of nuisance there. The indigenous villagers in the region sued Texaco (which Chevron subsequently purchased) for causing extensive pollution and won a local judgement for $9.51 billion. I haven’t taken a trip to Lago Agrio, but I suspect from the size of the judgement we aren’t talking about a few puffs of black smoke.

The plaintiffs are now chasing Chevron’s assets all over the world, including Ontario. Chevron hath protested with vehemence that its Ontario assets should not be at risk. The Ontario Court of Appeal ruled last year that the Ecuadorian plaintiffs “deserve to have the recognition and enforcement of the Ecuadorian judgment heard on the merits” in Ontario. Thus, the C.A. has at least opened the door for the plaintiffs to realize on Chevron’s Ontario property in satisfaction of the multi-billion dollar judgement. Here’s the shocker: Chevron has appealed to the Supreme Court of Canada.

This is where the CBA comes in….

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Insider trading tastes delicious!

* Politics and Biglaw just don’t mix: House Republicans hired Quinn Emanuel to handle their suit against President Barack Obama after Baker Hostetler withdrew from the representation due to “political pressure” the firm was facing. [Politico]

* The paper and napkin-eating “Middleman” in the post-it note insider trading ring pleaded guilty to securities fraud charges. This might make it difficult for his cohorts to substantiate their not-guilty pleas. [DealBook / New York Times]

* “This is a tale with no shortage of knaves or villains.” If you’re interested in learning about Chevron’s legal wranglings in Ecuador and with plaintiffs attorney Steven Donziger, there are a bunch of interesting new readings for you to peruse. [WSJ Law Blog]

* Crisis in legal education be damned! They may have bad timing, but these law schools are focusing on building bigger and better facilities for students they’re unable to put in their seats. [National Law Journal]

* Ohio law schools have taken a bruising in terms of decreased enrollment, but the University of Toledo has faced the worst of it. With a 25.9% reduction in 1Ls, tuition cuts can only do so much. [Toledo Blade]

Deepak Gupta

It’s an intimidation model. It’s a way for corporations to go after their critics and those who fund them.

Deepak Gupta of Gupta Beck PLLC, lead appellate lawyer for Steven Donziger in Donziger’s never-ending litigation with Chevron, commenting on the oil giant’s hardball tactics and aggressive litigation style (for a lengthy Rolling Stone article about the case).


* For all you surprised by LeBron James, let me remind you: Cleveland is all about two non-consecutive stints. [Wikipedia]

* Speaking of basketball, Mitchell Epner takes his talents to CNBC to breakdown the 5 things he learned during the first week of the Donald Sterling trial. [CNBC]

* Who is the Litigator of the Week, per Litigation Daily? It’s Daniel Gitner of Lankler Siffert & Wohl because he became the first lawyer to beat the S.D.N.Y. U.S.A.O. in an insider trading case. Also because he’s awesome. Pardon me while I put on my LSW shirt. [The Litigation Daily (sub. req.)]

* Hey! Take a second to take our latest law firm survey. We really want your feedback on your perception. [Above the Law]

* “5 Reasons the Sleeping Yankees Fan’s Lawyer Should Be Disbarred.” Fair enough. [Internet on Trial]

* Will the EPA’s latest carbon rule survive judicial challenge? I would have said “no” but after Homer City… [Breaking Energy]

* Do blondes make more money? I guess that’s the trade-off with being the focus of revenge porn. [The Careerist / American Lawyer]

* Aereo is back. Sort of. [Comm Law Blog]

* A former Patton partner lost his new job at Pillsbury over the Chevron case. Could anybody have suffered more over this case? Oh, right, all the Ecuadorians. [Legal Times]

* While you weren’t looking, even fewer people took the LSAT. Obviously. [LSAC]

When we last checked in on Patton Boggs, the long-suffering law firm was on the brink of a bankruptcy breakthrough. Its partners, and the partners of Squire Sanders, were in the middle of voting on a merger that would save Patton Boggs.

Alas, sadly for Patton Boggs, Squire Sanders has suspended the merger vote. What happened? Did Squire come to its senses get second thoughts about that hideous proposed firm name, Squire Patton Boggs?

Actually, no; the issue is more substantial than that. Here’s a hint: Patton Boggs might have saved itself by June, if it weren’t for those meddling… Ecuadorian villagers!

(The vote is back on. Please note the multiple UPDATES at the end of this post.)

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On Monday, we heard rumors of momentous events at Patton Boggs, the troubled law and lobbying firm. One of the rumors was that the partnership was holding a meeting to vote on something major — although what exactly was not revealed.

We reached out to Patton Boggs, which shot down the rumors of a meeting, so we ended up not doing a story. But there may have been some truth to reports of exciting goings-on at the firm — developments that could help the firm in its struggle for survival.

The firm just removed the albatross of litigation with oil giant Chevron from around its neck. As you may recall, Chevron sued Patton Boggs for PB’s representation of plaintiffs in an Ecuadorian environmental case that Chevron alleged was nothing more than a shakedown — a view that Judge Lewis Kaplan (S.D.N.Y.) vindicated in March.

But escaping from the Chevron quagmire did not come cheap for Patton Boggs. How much did the firm have to cough up to make this case go away?

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Patton Boggs Raises The White Flag In The Chevron Battle”

For those of you who haven’t tuned out Jarndyce v. Jarndyce Chevron Corp. v. Donziger, the never-ending litigation between oil giant Chevron and plaintiffs’ lawyer Steven Donziger, today brings some news. It shouldn’t come as any surprise to those who have been following the case, but Judge Lewis Kaplan (S.D.N.Y.) just ruled in favor of Chevron, enjoining Donziger and his Ecuadorean-villager clients from trying to enforce here in the United States the multi-billion-dollar pollution judgment they secured against Chevron in Ecuador — a judgment that was the result of fraud, according to Judge Kaplan. (Links to coverage and to the parties’ reactions to the ruling appear at the end of this post.)

The Chevron/Ecuador case is one of those matters that’s most interesting to those who are actually involved in it; to the rest of us, it’s a lot of noise. Speaking for myself, I’m interested in only two aspects of it: (1) its impact on the revenue and profit of Gibson Dunn, which has been litigating the case aggressively on behalf of Chevron, and (2) its meaning for the deeply troubled law firm of Patton Boggs, which made the ill-advised decision to align itself with the Ecuadorean village people.

In a media call this afternoon that I joined, Chevron’s general counsel, R. Hewitt Pate, declined to discuss the size of the company’s legal fees in the litigation. So we’ll have to focus on that second item: the bog that is Patton Boggs. Which right now looks like the Lago Agrio oil field, prior to remediation….

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* A guy who tried to get on the bench more than once was just busted in a prostitution sting. Oops. He also spells his name weird. [The Press Democrat]

* Tomorrow, Gibson Dunn partner Miguel Estrada will argue before the Second Circuit that private parties can’t get injunctions under RICO. For those keeping score, Gibson Dunn partner Randy Mastro hangs his whole case in Chevron v. Donziger on a request for an injunction under RICO. Time to play the Distinguish Polka. [Courthouse News]

* Wait until the RIAA realizes there are royalties to be made at CIA black sites in Uzbekistan. Because the only thing more torturous than being forced to listen to this music is the tenacity of the RIAA. [Slate]

* More on the legislative fight over accrual accounting versus cash-basis accounting for Biglaw firms. To the barricades! Swear your allegiance to Generalissimo MacEwen! [Adam Smith, Esq.]

* Is there a right to online anonymity? All the people out there trying to hire contract killers over the Internet certainly think so. [InsidePrivacy]

* Jay Edelson and Chandler Givens of Edelson PC examine the flawed law firm recruitment model. [Legal Solutions Blog / Thomson Reuters]

* Slip and falls at the IRS office. [Lowering the Bar]

* Choose your own adventure: Will you read this to see how many times Justice Alito recused himself during OT 2013? Or will you read this to see Justice Alito’s doofy-looking picture? [National Law Journal]

* Hackers took down the entire PACER system as well as various federal court websites on Friday. No, the FBI says it was “technical problems.” Oops, nope, still hackers. :( [Switch / Washington Post]

* It seems the best way to train new associates is to do the opposite of what Biglaw has been doing for decades. Take Stephen Susman’s word for it — you could probably end up with a $40k bonus. [The Careerist]

* A decision hasn’t been rendered in the Chevron case yet, but is Steven Donziger feeling pessimistic? He’s already hired impressive appellate counsel. [WSJ Law Blog]

* “Everybody’s been very nice to us, even though we’re lawyers.” Shocker. David Boies, Ted Boutrous, and Ted Olson had fun at the Sundance Film Festival promoting “The Case Against 8.” [Associated Press]

* Finally, a happy ending to an absurd science experiment. Over the weekend, a judge ordered that Marlise Munoz, a brain-dead pregnant woman in Texas, be removed from her respirators and ventilators. [CNN]

There were things that I did in Ecuador in the foreign legal system that were I felt appropriate for the foreign legal system based on what I observed as an American lawyer. And there are things down there that, no, would not be appropriate here.

– Embattled plaintiffs’ lawyer Steven Donziger, defending himself against allegations of bribery, witness tampering, and fraud, in testimony yesterday in Chevron Corp. v. Donziger.

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