03 Sep 2007
Superior Court Again Blocked in 8th Attempt to Inspect Laboratory used by Plaintiffs' Experts in Environmental Trial Against Chevron
Quito, September 3, 2007 In a shocking and deliberate attempt to obstruct justice, attorneys for Havoc Laboratories as well as attorneys for the plaintiffs suing Chevron used last-minute maneuvers to prevent a judge of the Civil Court of Pichincha from inspecting the laboratory. This is the eighth time the Judge has been prevented from inspecting the laboratory which has been used by the plaintiffs' experts to carry out questionable analyses of soil and water samples collected as evidence in the ongoing environmental trial against Chevron.
"There can be only one conclusion to be drawn from this ongoing conspiracy to obstruct justice," said Ricardo Reis Veiga, Managing Counsel for Chevron Latin America. "These lawyers are afraid that if the truth were exposed about this lab, the world would see that the plaintiffs' allegations against Chevron are fabrications."
The inspection of the Havoc Laboratory was scheduled to occur on September 3, for the purpose of determining whether the lab was qualified and had the necessary equipment and technology to undertake the required analysis of water and soil samples from oil sites in the Oriente region. All seven previously scheduled inspections have been blocked by various lawyers representing the plaintiffs and the laboratory.
On Friday, August 31, counsel for Havoc Laboratories submitted motions to the Civil Court of Pichincha demanding that the inspection be cancelled but offered no new legal or factual justification to support the request. Plaintiffs' attorneys also filed a motion with the Judge seeking to intervene in the inspection as an "interested third party." This is a new delay tactic on the part of the attorneys whose case is founded on the data the Havoc laboratory has generated.
The inspection was originally ordered by the Civil Court of Pichincha in February 2006 after Chevron noted to the Superior Court of Lago Agrio that the laboratory was not properly accredited by the Ecuadorian Accreditation Organization (OAE) to perform the necessary analyses required in the environmental trial against Chevron. Chevron admonished the Superior Court of Lago Agrio that the analytical reports produced by the Havoc Laboratory did not follow the court ordered Analytical Protocol and contained inaccurate and unreliable laboratory data. Such data are contained in expert reports filed by the plaintiffs and represent over 75% of all of the laboratory data that plaintiffs have filed in this case in a groundless effort to hold Chevron accountable for alleged environmental and health impacts in the Oriente.
During the past seven attempts, the judicially ordered inspection has been blocked through a series of legal filings and disregard for the orders of the court:
- On February 17, the Civil Judge of Pichincha, Dr. Germán González del Pozo, went to the Laboratory on the day of the officially scheduled inspection only to find its doors locked and access to the laboratory's facilities denied.
- On March 21, 2006, Judge González returned to Havoc Laboratory to once again find its doors locked, and his access denied.
- On March 30, 2006, when Judge González was about to leave the Court House to conduct the Inspection of Havoc Laboratory, plaintiffs' lawyers intercepted him with "a petition to desist and abstain."
- On May 31, 2006, a few hours before the next scheduled inspection, lawyers representing Havoc, together with the plaintiffs' attorneys, presented the Judge with a petition of several hundred pages requesting the suspension of the inspection.
- On August 28, 2006 three days before the reset inspection date the Judge requested both parties to appoint the experts for the Inspection. Havoc failed to appoint an expert, and, therefore, once again the Judge was forced to cancel the inspection.
- The inspection was rescheduled for October 23, 2006. However, a few days prior to this date, Havoc Laboratory's legal representatives filed a Recusal Claim in an effort to remove the judge and force suspension of the Inspection.
- On April 23, 2007, one day before the seventh attempt by the Court to inspect the Havoc Laboratory, attorneys on behalf of Havoc Laboratory, aligned with the plaintiffs' attorneys' filed a legal motion to stop the court from carrying out the inspection.
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