D.C. law firm Patton Boggs agreed Wednesday to pay Chevron $15 million to settle allegations that it helped cover up fraudulent evidence in an Ecuador pollution suit against the oil and gas company.
The settlement comes a week after U.S. District Judge Lewis Kaplan dismissed Patton Boggs’s claims of bad faith against Chevron but let stand counter claims alleging the law firm joined a fraud and cover-up related to a $9.5 billion pollution award by a court in Ecuador.
In addition to the $15 million payment to Chevron, Patton Boggs agreed to withdraw from representing any plaintiffs in the Ecuador case. The firm will also stop trying to enforce the award in other countries.
In February 2011, an Ecuador court held Chevron liable for pollution in the Amazon rain forest caused by Texaco before Chevron acquired it. The original verdict was about $18 billion but was later reduced to $9.5 billion.
Patton Boggs alleged in a suit that Chevron used bad faith in blocking enforcement of the Ecuador judgment.
In March, Judge Kaplan ruled that plaintiffs-lawyer Steven Donziger used bribery and fraud to win the Ecuador pollution verdict against Chevron. The judge issued an order that stopped Donziger from trying to enforce the award in the United States.
Patton Boggs began working with Donziger a few years ago to collect the Ecuador judgment against Chevron.
But Chevron accused Patton Boggs of joining in Donziger’s fraud and deceit.
When Judge Kaplan dismissed all of Patton Boggs’s claims against Chevron last Tuesday, he cleared the way for the oil company to move ahead with a trial against the law firm.
In a statement from Chevron Wednesday, Hewitt Pate, Chevron’s vice president and general counsel 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.”
Julie DiMauro is the executive editor of the FCPA Blog and can be reached here.