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Media Alerts - Chevron Corp. v. Page -- Fourth Circuit
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October 30, 2014
  Chevron Corp. v. Page -- Fourth Circuit
Headline: Lawyers Accused of Extortion Scheme Must Hand Over Documents

Area of Law: Discovery, Privilege, Comity Doctrine

Issue Presented: Whether decisions on applications for discovery filed under 28 U.S.C. § 1782 are immediately appealable.

Brief Summary: In 2011, Ecuadorian plaintiffs obtained a multi-billion dollar judgment against Chevron in an Ecuadorian court. The plaintiffs claimed that Chevron caused damage to the environment during oil drilling operations in Ecuador. Chevron alleged that the court proceedings were fraudulent. Specifically, Chevron alleged that Steven Donziger, the plaintiff's lead attorney, bribed and ghost wrote the judge's opinion. To help establish its fraud claim, Chevron sought discovery in the United States under 28 U.S.C. § 1782, which authorizes federal district courts to order persons to give testimony or produce documents to use in a foreign proceeding. The Second Circuit held that Donziger waived any claimed privileges by failing to file a privilege log and ordered Donziger to produce the requested documents ("Donziger Waiver").

In conjunction with the Donziger discovery request, Chevron also issued subpoenas against two Maryland lawyers, Aaron and Daria Page. Chevron made a series of allegations against the Pages and contended that the Pages were directly involved in the fraudulent Ecuadorian court proceedings. For example, the Pages wrote two internal memoranda for the Ecuadorian attorneys, which were partially incorporated verbatim into the Ecuadorian court opinion. Contending that the Pages' discovery responses were inadequate, Chevron moved the Maryland federal district court to compel production of the remaining documents for which the Pages claimed privilege.

For the first time, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit ruled that decisions on applications for discovery filed under 28 U.S.C. § 1782 are immediately appealable. Moreover, the Fourth Circuit held that the doctrine of comity required the court to apply the Second Circuit's Donziger Waiver to the current action in Maryland. Under the doctrine of comity, federal courts are not allowed to "step on each other's toes" and make rulings that would impact ongoing litigation of the matter in a different federal court. The Fourth Circuit affirmed the district court's order requiring the Pages to produce the requested documents.

To read the full opinion, please click here.

Panel: Judge Niemeyer, King, and Agee

Argument Date: 03/18/2014

Date of Issued Opinion: 09/24/2014

Docket Number: Case No. 13-1382

Decided: No. 13-1382 Dismissed; 13-2028 affirmed by published opinion

Case Alert Author: Michele Hayes (revised and updated by Linda Morris)

Counsel: ARGUED: James Edward Tyrrell, Jr., PATTON BOGGS LLP, Newark, New Jersey, for Appellants. Thomas Henderson Dupree, Jr., GIBSON, DUNN & CRUTCHER LLP, Washington, D.C., for Appellee. ON BRIEF: Christopher J. Gowen, THE GOWEN GROUP LAW OFFICE, PLLC, Washington, D.C., for Appellants Aaron Marr Page and Daria Fisher Page. Richard D. Carter, CARTER & COLEMAN, PLC, Alexandria, Virginia, for Appellants Hugo Gerardo Camacho Naranjo, Javier Piaguaje Payaguaje, Aaron Marr Page, Daria Fisher Page, and Parties-in-Interest - Appellants Ecuadorian Plaintiffs. Peter E. Seley, Claudia M. Barrett, GIBSON, DUNN & CRUTCHER LLP, Washington, D.C., for Appellee.

Author of Opinion: Judge Agee

Case Alert Circuit Supervisor: Professor Renée Hutchins

Edited: 10/20/2016 at 10:39 AM by Renee Hutchins

    Posted By: Renee Hutchins @ 10/30/2014 02:47 PM     4th Circuit  

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