Epic Ecuadorian environmental suit against Chevron lands in Toronto court

The Canadian Press

OTTAWA - An epic $19-billion environmental lawsuit from South America makes its Canadian courtroom debut this week.

The Ontario Superior Court in Toronto will be the latest venue in the bitter 19-year legal fight between Chevron Corp. and the dozens of Ecuadorian Amazon villagers who won a massive pollution judgment against the oil giant.

This past January, Ecuador's highest court upheld an award to the villagers for damages for contamination in the country's Amazon region between 1972 and 1990 by Texaco, which Chevron bought in 2001.

Chevron has vowed not to pay a cent of the judgment because it contends Texaco dealt with the problem before it bought the company, and maintains it was the victim of a fraudulent court proceeding.

The villagers are hoping to collect on the judgment in Canada because Chevron has billions of dollars worth of assets here, including a 20 per cent stake in the Athabasca oilsands and a string of service stations in Western Canada.

Two days have been set for the hearing starting Thursday.