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Chevron claimed a conflict of interest with Patton Boggs after the firm acquired former Chevron lobbyists in the Breaux-Lott Leadership Group, a lobbying shop founded by former Sens. John Breaux (D-La.) and Trent Lott (R-Miss.), who now work at Patton Boggs. Patton Boggs responded by suing Chevron’s law firm, Gibson Dunn, for tortuous interference in a case that was dismissed on appeal last month.
“This was a frivolous lawsuit meant to change the subject from the fraud they were immersed in,” Gibson Dunn partner Theodore Boutrous said.
The original court case was brought by thousands of Ecuadorian residents, who alleged that a subsidiary of Texaco — which was later acquired by Chevron — dumped oil waste that left their local environment polluted. After years of litigation, a court in Ecuador ruled that Chevron should pay $18 billion to the plaintiffs. But Chevron lawyers argue that they have evidence that experts and lawyers in the case committed fraud, and they have brought a racketeering case of their own in U.S. courts.
Karen Hinton, a spokeswomen for the plaintiffs, said her side “categorically” denies the fraud charges and called it part of an effort by Chevron to distract attention from its legal loss.
“Chevron continues to do everything it possibly can to not pay,” Tyrrell said. As for Patton Boggs’ involvement in any alleged fraud, Tyrrell rebutted an argument that Chevron lawyer Randy Mastro of Gibson Dunn made in a D.C. court on July 6. Mastro said, according to a court transcript: “Mr. Tyrrell says ask the question, would Patton Boggs be risking their reputation on these Ecuadorian plaintiffs and throwing themselves in and doubling down on the fraud? The answer, unfortunately, is yes.”
In an interview, Tyrrell said that Mastro accused Patton Boggs of the “most egregious fraud he’s ever seen,” but, Tyrrell noted, at the time Patton Boggs wasn’t even involved in the case.
Even the U.S. Chamber of Commerce has gotten into the mix. In a July 11 editorial, the group’s president, Thomas Donohue, spoke out again “tort tourism” and said the Supreme Court should hear the Chevron case “and rule that when there is evidence that a foreign judgement has been procured by fraud or corruption, the victim of the ill-gotten reward should have the right to preemptively block recognition of the award in U.S. courts.”