Tort Reform News: CHEVRON SEEKS $32 MILLION IN FEES FROM ENVIRONMENTAL LAWYER
The following is a digest of an article originally appearing at the Texans for Lawsuit Reform website. The Texas Lobby Group is posting this summary as a public service for Texans interested in tort reform.
Steven Donziger is the lawyer that Manhattan federal judge Lewis Kaplan found to be guilty of bribery, fraud, obstruction of justice, and other crimes two weeks ago in order to win a $9.5 billion lawsuit against Chevron in 2011. Fortunately for Donziger, Chevron is apparently seeking reimbursement of fees for “only a limited set of activities at the core of its case” so that they can “streamline” the court’s consideration of its application. Unfortunately, the bill still amounts to $32,334,584. Donziger has denied his mistakes and appealed the RICO judgment against him. Donziger’s attorney, Deepak Gupta said, in an email, this about Chevron’s fee petition: “Chevron, one of the world’s richest corporations, dropped its damages claims on the eve of trial to deny the Ecuadorians and Steven Donziger their right to a jury trial. Now Chevron is demanding that Steven reimburse Chevron an eye-popping $32 Million for its high-priced lawyers.”
“Steven is a solo environmental lawyer,” Gupta continues, “who works from the kitchen table of his apartment. Chevron knows he can’t actually pay those fees — and that’s the point. This is a transparent attempt to intimidate anyone from ever having the temerity to sue over wrongdoing that, in this case, devastated thousands of people’s lives, their culture, and their environment.”
Morgan Crinklaw, a spokesperson for Chevron, said in his own statement that: “Earlier this month, a U.S. Federal Court in New York found that Steven Donziger violated the RICO Act through a pattern of racketeering that included multiple frauds, extortion and obstruction of justice. His scheme covered several years and two continents and required an extensive amount of motion practice, court conferences and hearings, nearly two years of discovery and a seven-week trial to prosecute. Chevron is seeking to hold Mr. Donziger accountable for his actions by pursuing an award for the legal costs incurred in defending the company from his extortionate scheme and in prosecuting our successful RICO suit – an award mandated by the RICO statute.” According to the petition, the $32 million Chevron is after reflects 36,837 hours charged by its lead outside counsel, Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher, as well as 139,747 hours charged at lower costs by attorneys who handled document review.
Read original article here.