Chevron Seeks Sweeping eDiscovery Requests After Losing International Litigation
Chevron, a subsidiary of oil giant Texaco, is fighting back after a $19 billion dollar judgment was entered against it by an Ecuadorian court in an international litigation case. Plaintiffs in the environmental suit were indigenous Ecuadorian communities that alleged Chevron engaged in illegal rainforest destruction in their country.
Chevron is determined to not go down without a fight, and it is levying a fraud lawsuit against the Ecuadorians and their attorneys in U.S. federal court. Plaintiffs to the Ecuadorian case denied the allegations and have filed countersuits. The defense issued sweeping electronic discovery requests, including private email data of over 100 personal accounts from environmental activists, lawyers and journalists, some having only peripheral ties to the international litigation in Ecuador. For example, Chevron is requesting email analytics from a plaintiff attorney’s summer intern who was on the case for a few brief weeks in 2007.
Plaintiff trial attorneys claim the overbroad defendant discovery requests are an intimidation and harassment tactic. Chevron claims the defense requests are standard and the electronic data discovery is relevant to prove their fraud and misconduct allegations.
The district court in the Southern District of New York will rule on the scope of the defense electronic discovery requests in the upcoming weeks. This case could have far reaching implications for corporate subpoena and eDiscovery precedence if such sweeping and invasive requests are allowed to stand.
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