Last night, the attorney Steven Donziger and his Ecuadorian clients moved to block a $15 million settlement between Patton Boggs and Chevron. Judge Kaplan ruled in March that Donziger fraudulently secured a multi-billion dollar judgment against Chevron relating to oil pollution in Ecuador. Patton Boggs had previously represented the Ecuadorian plaintiffs. The motion argues that the settlement involved unethical behavior and should not have been approved:
Patton Boggs assumed a duty of loyalty when it agreed to represent Ecuadorian indigenous people and farmers in their epic legal battle to hold Chevron accountable for decades of extensive, life-threatening oil pollution in the Amazon rainforest. These vulnerable people counted on the good work of the able lawyers at Patton Boggs to help them protect their rights. Instead, Patton Boggs has become Chevron’s latest victim. Faced with the threat of scorched earth litigation fueled by the oil giant’s bottomless war chest, this once-proud American law firm has sold its clients down the river. There is no way to sugarcoat it: Patton Boggs has put its own interests above those of the people it was supposed to represent, switched sides in the middle of a hotly contested legal dispute, unceremoniously abandoned the clients without so much as notifying them, and publicly expressed regret at having taken on their representation in the first place. And it has even agreed to cooperate with Chevron in discovery, so that Chevron may use what it finds against the firm’s former clients. No court should place its imprimatur on such a rotten deal.
The American Lawyer is reporting that the motion is the delaying a vote Patton Boggs’ potential merger with Squire Sanders. Our prior posts on the Chevron litigation are here. [UPDATE: Patton Boggs filed an opposition to the motion by letter, arguing essentially that the motion is moot because the Settlement Agreement itself provides procedures by which Patton Boggs’ former clients would be notified and would have the opportunity to object to any disclosure of information.]