In an opinion issued yesterday, Judge Kaplan dismissed the counterclaims of New York attorney Steven Donziger against Chevron for alleged attempted extortion and fraud. Confirming the report and recommendation of Magistrate Judge Francis from April, Judge Kaplan found that neither New York nor California law recognizes a cause of action for attempted extortion. Donziger’s fraud counterclaim was based on alleged misstatements and omissions “in various statements to courts, government officials in this country and in Ecuador, Mr. Donziger, the media, supporters, and potential supporters of the [Ecuadorian plaintiffs], and the public at large.” Judge Kaplan found that he had not pled reasonable reliance or actual damages:
[T]he counterclaim does not allege that Mr. Donziger was deceived by any of the alleged misrepresentations or omissions, let alone that he suffered out-of-pocket loss by reason of such deception. Rather, the allegation is that Chevron made false allegations against Mr. Donziger in the lawsuits it brought against him, allegations that he knew were false or misleading, and that he defended himself against those allegations. . . . [T]he allegations that Chevron made misrepresentations in lawsuits it brought against Mr. Donziger and that Mr. Donziger, though aware of their alleged falsity, incurred expenses defending those lawsuits does not state a legally sufficient fraud claim.