I agree that the U.S. justice system is the envy of the world, but the example cited in David B. Rivkin Jr. and Andrew M. Grossman’s Nov. 16 op-ed, “U.S. justice exposes an Ecuadoran fraud,” was misleading. The claim that an $18 billion oil pollution judgment against a U.S. company by an Ecuadoran court was “a fraud, part of a 20-year scheme to extort money,” ignored that the oil company defendant is the party responsible for the case being tried in Ecuador.
Two decades ago, Ecuadorans whose villages had been harmed by oil pollution filed suit in federal court in New York. But Texaco (now part of Chevron) convinced the U.S. courts that the case should be heard in Ecuador. It was refiled there, where, after many years of legal proceedings, Chevron lost. The company then sued the plaintiffs and their lawyers in U.S. court, claiming that the lawsuit was part of a racketeering conspiracy.
Regardless of which side one believes on the merits, it is highly irresponsible not to disclose the true history of this litigation. The case could have been resolved on the merits long ago by the very U.S. court the op-ed praised, had the oil company not believed it could gain an advantage by having the case heard in Ecuador.
Robert V. Percival, Baltimore
The writer directs the environmental law program at the University of Maryland Francis King Carey School of Law.