Chevron and the Republic of Ecuador have beaten and bloodied each other for two decades now in what seems like just about every U.S. and Ecuadoran court that exists. The fight relates to claims in arbitration that Chevron predecessor Texaco polluted oil fields in Ecuador. Background here. And it has so far resulted in a multi-billion-dollar arbitral award and a court judgment that Ecuador has yet to collect.

The dispute landed before the Fifth Circuit after Ecuador tried to get discovery from an American, John Connor, and his firm, GSI Environmental. The district court denied Ecuador's request for aid in obtaining the discovery on the ground that the arbitral entity didn't qualify, under 28 U.S.C. 1782, as a "foreign or international tribunal" under Fifth Circuit precedent.

The Fifth Circuit reversed on the basis of judicial estoppel. Chevron, the panel pointed out, had over and over again gotten discovery through U.S. courts by claiming that the arbitral entity did constitute an "international tribunal" and therefore could not now deny the entity's status as an IT. Republic of Ecuador v. Connor, No. 12-20123 (5th Cir. Feb. 13, 2013).

Happy Valentine's Day!