As part of his day job (subscription required), your blogger wrote yesterday about an interesting development in the long-running environmental litigation concerning Chevron Corp.
Escalating the legal battle in the long-running dispute over pollution in Ecuador allegedly caused by Chevron Corp., the plaintiffs have secured the services of one of Washington, D.C.’s most powerful law firms.
Patton Boggs, an international firm that is also a major lobbying shop, started representing the Ecuadorean plaintiffs earlier this year, according to court papers filed in Washington last week.
Chevron is represented by another big player: Gibson Dunn & Crutcher. Stay tuned.
As Rep. Charlie Rangel’s ethics trial commenced today before the House ethics committee, it was his former legal team that received the most invective.
Rangel asked for the hearing to be postponed on the grounds that he has no counsel. That has been the case since his attorneys at Zuckerman Spaeder withdrew their services, he said. Rangel said he has already spent $2 million in legal fees.
It’s unclear why the law firm backed out, but members of the ethics committee weren’t too impressed that the lawyers would leave their client in the lurch before the equivalent of his day in court.
Rep. Peter Welch, D-Vt., described the law firm’s actions as “an astonishing display of professional irresponsibility,” while ranking Republican Michael McCaul of Texas described the situation as “unfortunate.”
Rep. G.K. Butterfield, D-N.C., a former judge, also seemed affronted, saying attorneys have a duty not to bail on their clients at a crucial moment. “It would not have happened in my courtroom,” he said.
A Korean War veteran has passed away just weeks before the U.S. Supreme Court is due to hear his case.
David L. Henderson died on Oct. 24. He was seeking to challenge whether the 120-day time limit for a veteran to seek review of a decision denying benefits unlawfully restricts the jurisdiction of the U.S. Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims.
The justices are due to hear arguments in Henderson v. Shinseki on Dec. 6.
Henderson’s attorney, Lisa Blatt of Arnold & Porter, has filed a motion seeking to substitute Henderson’s widow, Doretha, for her late husband, on the grounds that she would be entitled to accrued benefits. The court is due to announce Monday whether it will do so, according to the docket entry for the case (UPDATE: the court granted the motion).
Henderson joined the military in 1950 and was discharged two years later after being diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia. In 2001, he sought additional benefits for in-home care but his request was rejected. Henderson didn’t seek review in the veterans court until 2005, 135 days after he received final notice of the denial of benefits. He argued that it was because of his condition that he wasn’t able to file in time.
The veterans court rejected his claim. In dissent, Judge Haldane Robert Mayer said the ruling created “a Kafkaesque adjudicatory process in which those veterans who are most deserving of service-connected benefits will frequently be those least likely to obtain them.”
(For more on the background to the case, see this New York Times story)