19 Oct 2006

For Sixth Time, Judge is Prevented from Conducting Judicial Inspection

Plaintiffs' Attorneys and Havoc Lab Representatives are Repeatedly and Deliberately Obstructing Justice

QUITO, Ecuador, Oct. 19, 2006 – For the sixth occasion in less than a year, parties involved in a lawsuit against Chevron in Ecuador have prevented an Ecuadorian Judge, Dr. Germán González, from carrying out a judicial inspection of the Havoc Laboratories (Havoc), which has been hired by the plaintiffs' attorneys and their experts in the environmental lawsuit.

The inspection was scheduled for Monday, October 23, but this week legal representatives of the Havoc Lab filed a motion designed to force the suspension of the inspection.

Judge González has been prevented from inspecting the Havoc laboratory five times previously:

  • On February 17, Judge Gonzalez arrived at the Havoc Laboratory on the appointed day of the official inspection, only to find that the lab was closed and his access denied.
  • On March 21, 2006 Judge Gonzalez returned to the Havoc Laboratory only to find the lab closed and his access denied despite the fact that both the lab operator and the plaintiffs' lawyers had been notified the inspection would be taking place.
  • On March 30, 2006, plaintiffs' attorneys intercepted Judge Gonzalez with a "cease and desist" petition as he was preparing to leave the court house en route to his inspection of Havoc Laboratory.
  • On May 31, 2006, just several hours before the rescheduled inspection, lawyers representing Havoc and the plaintiffs presented the Judge with a petition, several hundred pages in length, requesting that the inspection be suspended. The Judge was compelled to temporarily postpone the inspection.
  • August 28, 2006 -- Three days before a scheduled inspection of the Havoc lab the Judge asked the parties to nominate technical experts for the inspection. The plaintiffs' failed to nominate an expert, and thus the Judge was forced to again cancel the inspection.

In a statement, Chevron said, "The plaintiffs' attorneys and the representatives of the Havoc lab are repeatedly and deliberately obstructing justice. They forcibly barred access to the lab and continue to use legal maneuvers to prevent the Court from carrying out its constitutional authority to conduct the inspection of the lab. We can only conclude that the plaintiffs' and Havoc's attorneys are attempting to cover up the fact that this lab is incapable and uncertified to conduct competent scientific analysis. They know that if the court makes this finding, it will prove that all the findings in their technical reports are invalid."

The purpose of the inspection is to verify the laboratory's suitability to conduct the analysis of samples taken during the judicial inspections. Scientific experts representing Chevron have challenged the validity of technical reports presented by the plaintiffs on the grounds that their sampling and analysis are flawed.

Further, there is no indication that the Havoc Laboratory is qualified, certified, or accredited by any recognized body that would establish the lab's ability to accurately conduct either hydrocarbon or metal analysis. With the complete absence of independent proof indicating the lab is able to perform the necessary analysis, the Plaintiffs' scientific results are neither trustworthy nor credible.

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