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Lawsuit Against Texaco Dismissed

May 31, 2001|Bloomberg News

Texaco Inc. has persuaded a federal judge to dismiss a lawsuit by South American Indians who say the oil company polluted the Amazon rain forest.

U.S. District Judge Jed Rakoff in Manhattan ruled that a 1993 lawsuit filed by 99 Indians in Ecuador and Peru should be tried in Ecuadorean courts. The case had been brought under a federal law that allows citizens of other countries to bring claims of international law violations in U.S. courts.

Rakoff said evidence and witnesses are in Ecuador, and he rejected claims that Ecuadorean courts are too corrupt to hear the case.

The Indians accused White Plains, N.Y.-based Texaco of dumping toxic petroleum byproducts in the rain forest during 28 years of oil exploration. They sought more than $1 billion in damages for cancer and other diseases they said they contracted.

Texaco was a minority partner with the Ecuadorean government and Ecuador's state-owned oil company, PetroEcuador. Texaco halted exploration operations in Ecuador in 1990. Texaco closed off 5 cents at $71.20 on the NYSE.

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