Analysis of Ethical and Legal Issues

Analysis of Ethical and Legal Issues



Analysis of Ethical and Legal Issues

The case between Steven Donziger and Chevron Corporation presents a series of ethical and legal issues, which are evident based on the conduct of the corporation and the plaintiffs respectively. The reason for the lawsuit began as a campaign suited particularly for supporting environmental conservation. Based on the actions performed by the firm in relation to the destruction of the environment, Donziger and a faction of Ecuadorian and American lawyers secured a case against Chevron Corporation due to the damage caused by the oil processes carried out by one of its subsidiaries, Texaco Inc. After a decade of emphasis on settlement, the Ecuadorian courts granted a judgment that would compensate the aggrieved victims. The verdict, which would see Donziger and the victims receive over a billion dollars in damages, underwent considerable protest and legal contest by Chevron due to issues of fraud within the ruling. A look into the case will unveil more issues affecting both parties in their quest for justice.

Ethical Issues in Donziger et al. vs. Chevron Corporation

Donziger’s Actions

One of the ethical issues present in the case involves slander and misdirection. In relation to the lawsuit, the court and the plaintiff, Chevron Corporation, were capable of establishing instances of misconduct specifically against Donziger. The most visible of this misdemeanor constituted instances of wholesome deception and misconstructions imposed upon the plaintiff during the trial. Based on Kaplan’s judgment, Donziger had engaged in an array of morally and ethically questionable activities in order to further his claim and gratify his personal needs apart from those of the affected residents of Oriente(Chevron Corporation v. Steven Donziger, et al.). Accordingly, the representative had engaged in acts of falsification relating to the claims of dynamic environmental change before the courts, Chevron investors, government officials and the society. In addition to this, Donziger had lied to his personal co-counsel as well as the financiers who were unaware of his schemes.

Apart from these ethical issues, there was also evidence of wrongful conduct in relation to Donziger’s actions. In legal terms, wrongful conduct comprises any form of activity that contravenes civil or moral law. With respect to the case, it is evident that the defendant engaged in several acts of fraud. Specifically, Donziger and his co-defendants participated in the extortion and bribery of Ecuadorian judicial representatives and administrators. In addition to the alleged transgressions, Donziger denied the charges irrespective of the exhibition of 37 written testimonies in addition to thousands of incriminating evidences and oral accounts from 31 witnesses (Chevron Corporation v. Steven Donziger, et al.). Furthermore, the defendant also attempted to restrict the plaintiff, Chevron, from uncovering the facts by presenting falsehoods to central judges within the discovery proceedings in the United States. Further evidence of wrongful conduct is evident where Donziger misinforms the jury in the RICO trial regardless of the evidence against him.

Chevron’s Actions

Even though Donziger seems to perpetrate ethical and legal mores, the plaintiff also seems to engage in an act of infringement in relation to its activities. While the verdict seemed to favor the corporation, it did not restrict it from engaging in environmentally destructive activities. The rejection of the Ecuadorian court’s decision to award $ 9.5 billion dollars to the inhabitants of Lago Agrio infringed ethical and moral terms (Chevron Corporation v. Steven Donziger, et al.). While aware of the damages it had caused to this particular region even after its acquisition of Texaco Inc, Chevron refused to account for its environmental responsibilities of cleaning the toxicity within the area. Instead, the firm focused intimately on rebutting the verdict for its own financial gain. Due to this, the Lago Agrio residents continue to suffer based on their proximity to the affected waters and toxic pits evident in the region. In fact, the most profound instance of wrongful conduct in this case is the corporation’s consistent intractable negligence in establishing pollution, disease and demise in Ecuador.

Legal Issues in Donziger et al. vs. Chevron Corporation

Undeniably, the Lago Agrio case is marred with instances of legal issues. Foremost, the application of forum non-conveniens is quite controversial in relation to the lawsuit. This respective facet was the basis responsible for the dismissal of the litigation in the United States. Accordingly, Donziger and his co-defendants delivered their arguments to the New York court but underwent discharge based on these grounds. In order to secure a lawsuit, the American legal structure directed the complainants to conduct their litigations in Ecuador, irrespective of the fact that the case involved a U.S. owned corporation. Moreover, despite of the validity of the forum non-conveniens, is it truly gratifying to end a case wrought with grave environmental issues?

Another issue involving the case involves tort litigation with specific reference to a large number of plaintiffs. Usually, cases whereby lawyers represent considerable populaces of plaintiffs lack class actions even though they possess a certain share of indicia. The reason for this is due to the lack of generic damages, but rather, personal advocacies on a large scale. In relation to the case, it is possible that the ruling would generally favor Chevron Corporation due to the lack of practical ethical regulations (Chevron Corporation v. Steven Donziger, et al.). An illustration of this is in accordance to Donziger’s activities. Due to insufficient mores, the lawyer was capable of engaging in ethically questionable acts in order to satisfy his personal needs. However, such actions only lead to discontinuation for the plaintiffs due to the actions of the representatives, as evidenced in this particular case.


In view of the proceedings, the Lago Agrio case presents a range of ethical and legal issues due to the actions committed by both the defendant and the plaintiff. Instances of wrongful conduct are considerably common especially where Donziger engages in fraud and extortion in order to gratify his individual demands correlating to the damages imposed by the first verdict. On the other hand, the case also provides a platform for reconsidering prevalent legal issues such as mass tort and forum non-conveniens, which seemed to benefit Chevron Corporation indirectly, regardless of the serious nature of the environmental damages.


Chevron Corporation v. Steven Donziger, et al., 11 Civ. 0691 (LAK) (2011). Print.

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