NEW YORK (Legal Newsline) - A federal judge has delayed his decision on whether to grant an injunction to stop the collection of more than $8 billion from Chevron Corp.
U.S. District Judge Lewis A. Kaplan did not immediately rule on the company's request for an injunction on Friday, according to the Wall Street Journal.
Earlier last week, an Ecuadorian court ruled that Chevron must pay $8.6 billion for environmental damage caused to the country's Amazon region by its Texaco unit.
Chevron said in a statement following last week's ruling, "The Ecuadorian court's judgment is illegitimate and unenforceable. It is the product of fraud and is contrary to the legitimate scientific evidence."
The company said in its statement that it planned to appeal the decision.
Kaplan asked that both sides provide more information about the appeals process in Ecuador before making a decision.
The news comes on the heels of the U.S. Department of State's letter to Kaplan, saying it will not comment on a related lawsuit filed by Chevron earlier this month.
U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara wrote in a Feb. 15 letter to Kaplan that the department "appreciates the court's invitation. The Department of State does not, however, have any specific comment at this time regarding the implications of this matter on relations between the United States and Ecuador or with respect to any legal issues presented by the plaintiffs motion."
Chevron filed its lawsuit on Feb. 1 against a group of trial lawyers and consultants who, it says, are leading a fraudulent litigation and public relations campaign against the company under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations, or RICO, Act and other state and federal laws.
Chevron's RICO claim addresses what it calls "pervasive misconduct" relating to the defendants' efforts to extort money from the company "using the pendency of a lawsuit in Lago Agrio, Ecuador, directed and funded by American trial lawyers and their allies," Chevron said in a statement.
The company's suit alleges that the defendants, and certain "non-party co-conspirators," have used the Ecuador lawsuit to threaten Chevron, mislead U.S. government officials, and harass and intimidate Chevron employees -- all to extort a financial settlement from the company.
Among those named in Chevron's suit are New York City-based plaintiffs' lawyer Steven Donziger; his Ecuadorian colleagues Pablo Fajardo and Luis Yanza; their front organizations, the Amazon Defense Front and Selva Viva; and Stratus Consulting, a Boulder, Colo.-based consulting firm retained by the plaintiffs' lawyers to "secretly prepare a damages report that was then presented as having been written by an allegedly independent, court-appointed expert," the company said.
From Legal Newsline: Reach Jessica Karmasek by e-mail at email@example.com.