Patton Boggs hands $15m to Chevron to settle Ecuador claims

Patton Boggs has handed over $15m to Chevron and issued a statement of regret, bringing to an end its high-profile legal battle with the oil giant.

A month after the firm vowed to defend the “below the belt” counterclaims brought against it by the oil giant, the firm has settled claims against it with a multi million dollar payout (3 April 2014).

The Washington lobbying firm had been acting on litigation stemming from toxic drilling waste pits in Ecuador. Claimant lawyer Steven Donziger had secured a $9.5bn judgment against the Chevron, which Patton Boggs had attempted to enforce in 2010. However Chevron then accused Donziger of fraudulently securing the judgment and it launched a case against Patton Boggs alleging that it had concealed his tactics (3 April 2014).

The firm said last week Chevron had agreed to drop all claims against it and added: “Patton Boggs regrets its involvement in this matter.”

In March Judge Lewis Kaplan of the US District Court for the Southern District of New York found that the judgment was unenforceable as it was the product of fraud and racketeering activity.

One month later the judge said he “had difficulties” with Patton Boggs’ attempts to avoid defending its case in New York due to its partners being “stateless persons”.

Judge Kaplan granted Chevron’s application to pursue its case against Patton Boggs, which have now been brought to a close with the settlement. 

Chevron’s vice president and general counsel Hewitt Pate said: “We are pleased that Patton Boggs is ending its association with the fraudulent and extortionate Ecuador litigation scheme. Chevron detailed its objections to Patton Boggs’ conduct in its counterclaim, and today’s agreement brings that litigation to an end. Chevron encourages others to disassociate themselves from this fraud.”  

A spokesperson for Patton Boggs said: “Today’s resolution of our firm’s disputes with Chevron ends our involvement in the Lago Agrio matter. The recent opinion of the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York in the Chevron v. Donziger case includes a number of factual findings about matters which would have materially affected our firm’s decision to become involved and stay involved as counsel here. Based on the Court’s findings, Patton Boggs regrets its involvement in this matter.”