Ecuadoreans Want $1 billion Texaco Suit Heard in US

About 30,000 residents of Ecuador's oil-producing Oriente region have launched an appeal in a US district court aimed at bringing a $1 billion class-action suit against Texaco in the US. They accuse the US company of causing environmental damage by using defective drilling technology during almost 20 years of operations in the Amazon.

A US judge has already dismissed the case twice, most recently last May, saying, as does Texaco – now ChevronTexaco – that it should be heard in Ecuador, since most of the evidence and witnesses are there. Ecuador does not allow class-action suits. The plaintiffs say the trial should be in the US, where the decision to put in defective drilling machinery was taken. Should the decision go in plaintiffs' favor, it would be the first time a US corporation were held accountable in the US for environmental damage caused elsewhere.

Texaco pulled out of the Ecuadorean venture, in which it was a minority partner with state Petroecuador, in 1990. It maintains that its drilling practices complied with Ecuadorean law. The plaintiffs claim the technology was below the environmental standards used in other parts of the world.

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