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16 Feb 2011

David Baker, San Francisco Chronicle

Why Chevron-Ecuador case never reached settlement

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In November 2009, a prominent Philadelphia lawyer suing Chevron Corp. over oil-field pollution in Ecuador had some advice for his colleagues on the case: Now might be the time to settle. Joseph Kohn…, whose firm had spent $7 million bankrolling the lawsuit, also argued against turning down settlement talks in hopes that the Ecuadoran judge hearing the case would eventually rule in their favor. Chevron…could find ways to avoid paying for years… Kohn's colleagues and their clients in Ecuador rejected his advice, and Kohn eventually left the case…Monday's judgment orders Chevron to pay $8.64 billion for environmental cleanup and health programs, an amount that could double if the company doesn't issue an apology in the next 15 days. In addition, Judge Nicolas Zambrano awarded $864 million to the Amazon Defense Coalition, a group representing the plaintiffs.