(Reuters) - Chevron Corp. on Tuesday lost a U.S. Supreme Court bid to block an $18.2 billion judgment against it in Ecuador in a case over pollution in the Amazon jungle.
The Supreme Court did not give any explanation for its decision to reject Chevron's appeal of a lower court ruling. The lower court in January had thrown out an injunction blocking enforcement of the Ecuadorean judgment.
The decision is the latest in a nearly two-decade conflict between the No. 2 U.S. oil company and residents of Ecuador's Lago Agrio region over claims that Texaco, bought by Chevron in 2001, contaminated the area from 1964 to 1992. The battle has spawned litigation in numerous courts both inside and outside the United States.
Oil companies are watching the case closely because it may have a bearing on other cases involving companies polluting the areas where they operate.
Chevron claims that the judgment, imposed by an Ecuadorean court in February 2011, was fraudulent and unenforceable under New York law.
In March 2011, a federal judge in New York issued a worldwide injunction blocking enforcement of the judgment. But on January 26, the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New York overturned the ban, finding that Chevron had prematurely challenged the judgment.
The 2nd Circuit said the oil company, based in San Ramon, Calif., could challenge it "only defensively, in response to attempted enforcement," which the Lago Agrio residents had not attempted and might never attempt in New York.