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8 Nov 2010

Michael Goldhaber, American Lawyer

Judge Kaplan Lays Into Plaintiffs in Ecuador Suit Against Chevron

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In a strongly worded opinion released Friday, federal district judge Lewis Kaplan in Manhattan elaborated on his reasons for allowing Chevron Corporation to depose Steven Donziger, the U.S. plaintiffs attorney in the massive environmental tort litigation against Chevron in Ecuador…[I]n an October 20 order, Kaplan allowed additional discovery from Donziger. In Friday's opinion, Kaplan concluded that "the need is extremely great" to depose Donziger. He based his decision onouttakes from a documentary on the litigation, Crude--footage that Chevron had subpoenaed and submitted in support of its fraud allegations…Donziger did not respond to a request for comment. In past interviews, Donziger has denied improper conduct, and emphasized that all discovery rulings are based on a weak and preliminary standard of proof.