A Reasonable Award in Ecuador? Professor, You Can’t Be Serious

In the flood of news coverage after Ecuadorian Judge Nicolas Zambrano announced an $8.6 billion damage award against Chevron, reporters sought out ostensibly independent experts to comment on the award. We laughed upon reading one such comment in an AP report:

A professor at Loyola Law School in Los Angeles who has studied the case, Georgene Vairo, said the comparatively small judgment is a signal from Ecuador that it is willing to negotiate a smaller fine.

“This is way low compared with what everyone was expecting to happen,” she said. “They are trying to show the world they are reasonable people. This is Ecuador coming to the table.”

Oh, please. The U.S. trial lawyers and their allies in Ecuador are on the record numerous times talking about their strategy to make those most outrageous, exorbitant claim for damages — $113 billion! — so they can pretend anything less is a sign of judicial reason and compromise.

Here’s an example, yet another damning revelation from outtakes from the documentary-style movie on the litigation, “Crude.”

This clip shows U.S. trial lawyer Steven Donziger talking with the plaintiffs’ U.S. consultants Ann Maest and Richard Kamp, discussing their plan to ratchet up the damage claims in anticipation of a smaller judgment so the award appears reasonable. Donziger says, “If we have a legitimate $50 billion damages claim, and they end up—the judge says, ‘Well, I can’t give them less than $5 billion … and, say, Tex had a huge victory. They knocked out 90 percent of the damages claim.'” (The reference to “Tex” is to Texaco, later merged with Chevron.)

Ecuador’s not coming to the table, Ecuador wants as big as piece of Chevron as it can devour. It’s just pretending to be a dainty eater.

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