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In re Chevron

ELR Citation: 40 ELR 20009
Nos. No. 10 MC 00002, (S.D.N.Y. , 11/04/2010)

A district court, in a $113 billion lawsuit against an oil company concerning environmental pollution in the Amazon, granted the oil company's motion to depose Ecuadorian villagers' attorney concerning possible fraud and misconduct. One party to a litigation should not easily be permitted to take discovery of the lawyers on the other side. But the evidence here shows that the attorney has attempted to intimidate the Ecuadorian judges, obtain political support for the Ecuadorian lawsuit, persuade the government of Ecuador to promote the interests of the villagers plaintiffs, obtain favorable media coverage, solicit the support of celebrities and environmental groups, procure and package "expert" testimony for use in Ecuador, pressure the oil company to pay a large settlement, and obtain a book deal. Thus, the quite unusual circumstances of this case, the need for the discovery, the plainly unprivileged nature of many of the attorney's activities, the evidence of possible fraud and misconduct by the attorney, and other considerations are sufficiently great to require that the attorney respond on the merits to the subpoenas. He must give discovery as to non-privileged matters, and he must not be exempted from making specific claims of privilege or from defending those claims against any challenges.