cross-posted from Letters Blogatory–I thought folks here might be interested in the latest development in the Lago Agrio fiasco. Cricitize our courts all you like, but be grateful for what we’ve got!
The Chevron Lago Agrio case has spawned a wave of judicial assistance applications here in the United States (some of which we’ve covered here and here). So while the latest development is not strictly relevant to Letters Blogatory’s usual scope of coverage, I thought readers would appreciate a link to Chevron’s massive complaint against the Ecuador plaintiffs, their lawyers, experts, and others, in the Southern District of New York. (HT to Opinio Juris, which blogged on the new case on Feb. 1).
I’m sure I’m not the only one whose main reaction to the whole mess and to the new complaint in particular goes something like this: Chevron was originally sued in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York. Say what you like about the expense of civil litigation in the district courts, the, ah, distinctiveness of the U.S. approach to pre-trial documentary dicovery, and all the rest. I have no question that our federal courts, with the rules of evidence and procedure under which they operate, with the use of the jury to find facts, and with the courts of appeal to correct errors and abuses of dicretion, is one of the most awesome mechanisms for the production of factually and legally correct judgments known to humankind. (Hyperbole? Maybe). Chevron nevertheless engaged in a multi-year effort, which was ultimately successful, to dismiss the case against it here in favor of litigation in Ecuador on forum non conveniens grounds. Now, I don’t know the first thing about the courts of Ecuador, but given what Chevron says took place there, I have to imagine that Chevron now regrets its earlier position. And when Chevron seeks a remedy from what it alleges is rampant corruption in the Ecuadoran proceedings, to what forum does it turn? The U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York. Priceless.