An Ecuadorean judge ruled today that Chevron was responsible for oil contamination in a wide swath of Ecuador's northern jungle and fined it at least $8 billion, the plaintiffs' lead attorney says. Chevron said it would appeal and called the ruling "illegitimate and unenforceable" in a news release. The plaintiffs' lawyer, Pablo Fajardo, called the judgment "a great step that we have made toward the crystalization of justice," but said he considered the damage award too low and was considering an appeal.
Chevron has long contended that the court-appointed expert in the case was unduly influenced by the plaintiffs. In its statement today, Chevron called the ruling "the product of fraud and contrary to the legitimate scientific evidence." The suit stems from damages sought on behalf of 30,000 people for environmental contamination and illnesses that allegedly resulted from Texaco's operation of an oil consortium from 1972 to 1990. Chevron bought Texaco in 2001. (Read more Ecuador stories.)