By BEN CASSELMAN and ANGEL GONZALEZ
Ecuadorians suing Chevron Corp. over alleged pollution in their country have hired new lawyers and are overhauling their legal strategy after a year of aggressive legal moves by the oil giant splintered their legal team.
Chevron has accused the plaintiffs of manufacturing evidence and seeking to improperly influence the Ecuadorian court overseeing the case. The San Ramon, Calif., oil company released over the past several months thousands of pages of internal documents that it claims show their lead U.S. attorney, Steven Donziger, submitted doctored evidence, among other allegations.
Plaintiffs in the 17-year-old case are suing Chevron over oil pollution they say was caused by Texaco Inc., which produced oil in Ecuador until 1992. Chevron bought Texaco in 2001 and has denied the charges. . .
Plaintiffs separately severed ties outright with Joseph Kohn, the Philadelphia lawyer who funded the multimillion-dollar suit beginning in 1993. Mr. Kohn broke with the group and Mr. Donziger last year after they rejected his recommendation to settle the case.
In their place, the plaintiffs have hired Washington, D.C.-based law firm Patton Boggs, and they have secured new funding from a London-based hedge fund, Burford Capital Ltd., which invests in commercial disputes in return for a share of any awards. . .
"Patton Boggs is certainly a worthy adversary," said Bill Dorsaneo, who is not involved in the case but teaches law at Southern Methodist University in Dallas.
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