Next time some defendant wants to argue that the legal system of a South American country is perfectly suitable to handle the lawsuit and therefore the case must be dismissed under a Kinney forum non analysis, just show the court this:
The latest turn of events has Chevron and its lawyers from Jones Day firing back against 30,000 plaintiffs, their lawyers and the Ecuadorean legal system. The case stems from environmental contamination allegedly caused by years of oil drilling in the region by Texaco, which Chevron bought for nearly $35 billion in 2000.
Chevron said in a news release Monday that is has provided authorities in the U.S. and Ecuador with video recordings of Judge Juan Núñez and people who identify themselves as representatives of the Ecuadorean government and its ruling political party, Alianza PAIS.
The company claims the recordings show an alleged PAIS representative seeking $3 million in bribes in return for handing out “environmental remediation contracts” to two businessmen after a verdict is handed down by Núñez later this year. Of that sum, $1 million would go to Núñez, $1 million to “the presidency” and another $1 million to plaintiffs.
The recordings were made in May and June, Chevron said. Two taped meetings allegedly took place in the Quito offices of PAIS, another in Núñez’s chambers in the northern city of Lago Agrio, and the last meeting involving the judge took place in a Quito hotel room.
The company posted two hours worth of videotaped conversations covering the four meetings on a Web site dedicated to telling Chevron’s side of the story along with a letter to Ecuador’s prosecutor general.
In the three-page letter, Jones Day litigation chief Thomas Cullen Jr. said the recordings have “serious implications for the integrity of the Lago Agrio proceedings, for the reliability of the rule of law, for the criminal liability of the various individuals apparently soliciting bribes and for the past as well as the future role of Judge Núñez in the proceedings.”
Usually the corporate defendant has been sued in an American jurisdiction, and takes pains to point out the laws of another country are just as good as here for adjudicating the claims.
Chevron has spent a significant sum establishing what most parties know when they make this argument — there’s no place like America.