Last September, a panel of the Second Circuit tossed a preliminary injunction that barred any action, anywhere, to collect on an Ecuardoran court's $17.2 billion judgment against Chevron for polluting part of the Amazon. Last week, the court got around to saying why.
[Blawgletter describes some of the dispute's facts, claims, and decades-long history here.]
The court grounded its ruling on the fact that the basis for the injunction — New York’s Uniform Foreign Country Money-Judgments Recognition Act, N.Y. C.P.L.R. §§ 5301-5309 — "does not authorize affirmative relief of this kind, but only recognizes a defense available when a would-be judgment-creditor first attempts enforcement in New York." Chevron Corp. v. Naranjo, No. 11-1150-cv(L), slip op. at 2 (2d Cir. Jan. 26, 2012). The panel went on:
Judgment-debtors can challenge a foreign judgment’s validity under the Recognition Act only defensively, in response to an attempted enforcement – an effort that the defendants-appellees have not yet undertaken anywhere, and might never undertake in New York.
Id. at 4. Got that? The Recognition Act recognizes foreign judgments except when it doesn't, in which case you have to invoke the exception by way of defense and not through an action for a pre-emptive injunction.
We suspect that the outcome in Naranjo won't mean a huge change in your law practice, but we all must marvel at the great lengths to which people who seek or want to keep large amounts of money will go to get or retain them.