Stop the presses!
Even though he has characterized every aspect of Ecuador -- its people, culture, government and courts -- as corrupt, dysfunctional or a joke, U.S. Judge Lewis Kaplan finally ruled in favor of a motion filed by a group of Ecuadorians and their U.S. legal adviser.
The Ecuadorians may depose the oil giant's CEO and Chair, John Watson.
It is rare that a CEO & Chairman of the Board is required to sit for a deposition, which will take place this month. Watson, though, has been intimately involved in the 20-year-old lawsuit, originally filed against Texaco in the U.S. but later re-filed in Ecuador against Chevron for massive oil contamination of the Amazon rainforest. Chevron purchased Texaco in 2001. In 2011, an Ecuador court delivered a $19 billion judgment against Chevron.
As the architect of the plan to purchase Texaco, Watson knew about Texaco's admission that it had dumped 16 billion gallons of toxic production water into the Ecuador rainforest's waterways. He knew about the 900 unlined pits that Texaco built to store pure crude. He knew about the internal audits Texaco conducted that showed massive contamination. Yet, he pushed the merger and, as a result, inherited the largest environmental lawsuit in the world's history and urged a trial in Ecuador, only later to cry foul when he, his lawyers and his private investigative firm, Kroll, failed to undermine the Ecuadorian judicial system.
Having lost in Ecuador, Watson and his 2,000 lawyers and legal assistants turned to the U.S. and found in Lewis Kaplan a federal judge only happy to take their spurious charges seriously. See this Chevron Pit for more background on Kaplan's bias against the Ecuadorians.
Meanwhile, the Ecuadorians are focusing their resources and energy where it matters: in countries where Chevron has assets. They have filed lawsuits in Argentina, Canada, Brazil and Ecuador to seize assets as payment for the judgment Chevron refuses to acknowledge. Currently, $2 billion has been frozen in Argentina.