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16 Apr 2013

Jonathan Stempel, Reuters

Chevron grills U.S. lawyer in $19 billion Ecuador pollution case

Chevron Corp on Tuesday sought to persuade a New York federal judge to punish a U.S. lawyer representing Ecuadorean villagers who won a $19 billion environmental damages award, saying the lawyer is withholding documents from the oil company…At issue is the extent to which Donziger [the plaintiffs’ lawyer] and others acted in bad faith by failing to turn over files and documents that Chevron claimed it needed for its case…Under questioning from Chevron lawyer Randy Mastro, Donziger denied having directed his Ecuadorean counterpart Pablo Fajardo to keep documents from Chevron…[and that] his authority has been reduced in recent months, furthering his argument that he lacked control to get the documents Chevron wants…Chevron won a victory on Monday when U.S. Magistrate Judge James Francis recommended the dismissal of counterclaims by Donziger accusing [Chevron] of harassment and trying to block enforcement of the judgment…