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A judge overstepped his authority when he tried to ban enforcement around the world of an $18 billion judgment against Chevron Inc. for environmental damage in Ecuador, a federal appeals court said Thursday as it explained why it lifted the ban last year.

The three-judge panel of the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said the judge has authority to block collection if Ecuadorean plaintiffs move against Chevron in New York, but law does not give him authority "to dictate to the entire world which judgments are entitled to respect and which countries' courts are to be treated as international pariahs."

The judgment came last February after nearly two decades of litigation that stemmed from the poisoning of land in the Ecuadorean rainforest while the oil company Texaco was operating an oil consortium from 1972 to 1990 in the Amazon. Texaco became a wholly owned subsidiary of Chevron in 2001.

Chevron obtained an order from U.S. District Judge Lewis A. Kaplan last March blocking Ecuadorean plaintiffs from trying to collect the $18 billion until he could stage a trial to determine if the judgment was obtained fairly.



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