AP and Reuters are reporting that an Ecuadorian judge has ruled against Chevron in an environmental suit brought against the San Ramon-based oil and gas giant. Both report that a lawyer for the plaintiffs put the damages that the company was ordered to pay at $8 billion.

Chevron said in a statement that “The Ecuadorian court’s judgment is illegitimate and unenforceable. It is the product of fraud and is contrary to the legitimate scientific evidence. Chevron will appeal this decision in Ecuador and intends to see that justice prevails.”

Perhaps the market feels the same way. Shares finished up just over one percent.

For the two sides of the story, here are Chevron’s Ecuador page and a site called “ChevronToxico,” which aims to rebut the company’s defense in the long-running dispute.

You can read a short history of the case at Wikipedia.

The full story, from AP:

An Ecuadorean judge ruled Monday that Chevron Corp. was responsible for oil contamination in a wide swath of Ecuador’s northern jungle and fined it at least $8 billion, the plaintiffs’ lead attorney told The Associated Press.

Chevron said it would appeal and called the ruling “illegitimate and unenforceable” in a news release.

The plaintiffs’ lawyer, Pablo Fajardo, called the judgment “a great step that we have made toward the crystalization of justice.”

He told the AP, however, that he considered the damage award too low and was also considering an appeal.

Fajardo said by telephone that he had just received the 187-page ruling and needed to digest it before commenting further.

Chevron has long contended that the court-appointed expert in the case was unduly influenced by the plaintiffs.

In its statement Monday, the corporation called the ruling “the product of fraud (and) contrary to the legitimate scientific evidence.”

The suit stems from damages sought on behalf of 30,000 people for environmental contamination and illnesses that allegedly resulted from Texaco’s operation of an oil consortium from 1972 to 1990.

Chevron bought Texaco in 2001.

Ecuador Judge Rules Against Chevron 14 February,2011Jon Brooks


Jon Brooks

Jon Brooks is the host and editor of KQED’s health and technology blog, Future of You. He is the former editor of KQED’s daily news blog, News Fix. A veteran blogger, he previously worked for Yahoo! in various news writing and editing roles. He was also the editor of EconomyBeat.org, which documented user-generated content about the financial crisis and recession. Jon is also a playwright whose work has been produced in San Francisco, New York, Italy, and around the U.S. He has written about film for his own blog and studied film at Boston University. He has an MFA in Creative Writing from Brooklyn College.

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