Politica y Economía

Attorney Donziger sued by ex-counsel for nonpayment: 'the well is dry'

17/12/2020 Reuters Westlaw Today - Sebastien Malo

Attorney Donziger sued by ex-counsel for nonpayment: 'the well is dry' / Foto: Juicio Crudo

Attorney Donziger sued by ex-counsel for nonpayment: 'the well is dry' / Foto: Juicio Crudo

Andrew Frisch, the former lead defense attorney of Steven Donziger, the American lawyer who sued Chevron Corp over pollution in the Ecuadorian rainforest and is now facing a trial for criminal contempt, sued his ex-client for breach of contract in New York state court on Wednesday.

Frisch in a lawsuit against Donziger in New York County Supreme Court seeks $350,000 in relief from his former client for "professional services" whose underlying contract Frisch claims has been breached, according to a summons.

Frisch represented Donziger in a federal criminal contempt case.

"Andy Frisch was paid significant funds to handle my misdemeanor contempt case before he unilaterally decided to withdraw prior to trial," said Donziger. "I do not believe Andy's claims have merit and I intend to contest them."

Frisch twice successfully asked the court to be excused from his role as Donziger's counsel in the federal case.

The attorney first withdrew as counsel in July.

In September he asked the presiding judge that she vacate an order forcing him to again represent Donziger, who was without counsel less than two weeks before his trial (the trial has since been re-scheduled). In his motion to Senior U.S. District Judge Loretta Preska, Frisch told the court that his relationship with Donziger had gone beyond repair.

Ronald Kuby, one of Donziger's lawyers in the criminal case, said that Frisch had so far been paid $125,000 for his work on the criminal contempt case. Kuby and two other attorneys who represent Donziger in that case work pro bono, he said.

Kuby, who is not Donziger's defense counsel in the state case filed on Wednesday, said: "Donziger doesn't have any money: the guy's been disbarred, he's been on home detention for almost 500 days, he can't earn a living, the well is dry."

Frisch joined Schlam Stone & Dolan as a partner earlier this year.

Donziger faces a Jan. 19 trial over six counts of criminal contempt. He stands accused of failing to obey the court in a related civil case, including by failing to undergo a timely forensic inspection of his electronic devices and to surrender his passport.

In the civil case, Chevron accuses Donziger and others of having conspired in a case in Ecuadorian court against the energy company. The lawsuit culminated nine years ago in a $9.5 billion judgment that Donziger was unable to enforce after a U.S. judge found it had been obtained through fraud.

The case is Andrew J. Frisch et al v. Steven Robert Donziger, New York County Supreme Court, No. not available.

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Edición No.3 / Octubre 2021

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