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Canadian judge hears $19 billion Ecuador lawsuit case


Protestors hold signs during a demonstration outside of the Chevron headquarters on February 15, 2011 in San Ramon, California.


Justin Sullivan

A Canadian judge has been left skeptical about enforcing $19 billion Ecuador lawsuit against Chevron.

Ontario Superior Court Justice David Brown agreed to hear the case but was skeptical of whether he could issue a ruling since an appeal is pending in Ecuador's constitutional court, according to the Associated Press. He also noted that the case should be heard in the US, not Canada.

"You should all be in New York," Brown said several times during the first day of hearings today in Toronto, reported the Financial Post. "On the issue of jurisdiction, the law is not clear on this at all. Why should the Ontario court stick their nose" into the issue.

The Ecuadorean villagers received the award because of black sludge contamination of a rainforest between 1972 and 1990 by Texaco, owned by Chevron since 2001, noted the AP. US-based Chevron Crop. insists it won't pay because it says Texaco dealt with the issue before it was bought.

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The villages argue that the judgment should be enforced in Canada because the country's portion of Chevron has billions of dollars worth of assets.

The Financial Post noted that the 47 Ecuadoreans have asked the Ontario court to seize Chevron's Canadian assets, including an oil sands project and offshore wells.