Update: Chevron ordered to pay $8 billion

An Ecuadorean judge ruled Monday that Chevron must pay at least $8.2 billion for allegedly dumping oil-drilling waste. The company has pledged to appeal the ruling.

Original report continues below...

Chevron, accused of dumping oil-drilling waste in the Ecuadorean jungle, is facing a multibillion-dollar lawsuit. To fight it, they are counter-suing the alleged victims.

The company filed a Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO) lawsuit in federal court in New York earlier this month, accusing the plaintiffs of fraud, interfering with contracts, trespass, unjust enrichment and conspiracy.

"Chevron is acting out of pure desperation because we are nearing judgment," Karen Hinton, a spokeswoman for the plaintiffs, told activist campaigners with the watchdog site ChevronToxico.

"The company's new legal actions are designed to intimidate lawyers and funders and to provide a fake cover story for shareholders when the company is hit with an adverse judgment," she added.

In fact, Chevron just ending a record-setting 13-day deposition of one of the lawyers for the plaintiffs.

"Irrefutable scientific truth will triumph over Chevron's intimidation tactics and desperation," Pablo Fajardo, the lead attorney in the case, said.

"We will not be frightened by corporate bullying," he insisted. "Chevron is trying to turn the victims of its own unlawful misconduct into criminals. We will not stand for it."

Chevron won a key decision last week when a federal judge ordered Ecuador to suspend enforcement of any judgment against the company.

For its part, Ecuador said it would comply with the ruling.

The case first began in 1993 when the Ecuadorian plaintiffs accused Texaco of using unlined pits to store oil-drilling waste. A decade later, the case moved to Ecuador after Texaco had been bought by Chevron.

The plaintiffs were asking for $113 billion in damages. Chevron expected to lose the case, which could be decided in a matter of weeks or months.

This video from Amazon Watch was published last year, by Ecuadorians who were affected by Texaco's activities.

Message from Ecuador to Chevron CEO John Watson from Amazon Watch on Vimeo.