Updated 5:29 p.m.
A federal judge in Washington today refused to allow the law firm Patton Boggs to tack on additional allegations in a suit rooted in human rights litigation in Ecuador against the oil giant Chevron.
Last year, Patton Boggs asked Judge Henry Kennedy Jr. of Washington federal district court to declare that the firm is in the ethical clear to advocate for Ecuadorian plaintiffs in the human rights matter against Chevron.
Patton Boggs owns the Breaux Lott Leadership Group, a lobbying shop that has done work for Chevron in connection to the Ecuadorian litigation. Chevron’s lawyers at Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher argue the business relationship sets up a potential conflict of interest.
Kennedy in April dismissed Patton Boggs’ case, saying he’d leave it up to federal trial and appellate judges to determine whether there’s any conflict.
On April 27, Patton Boggs asked Kennedy to reconsider his decision or to allow the firm to amend its original complaint. On the same day, the law firm filed a new action in federal court “apparently presenting claims identical to those that it seeks permission to reinstate or add here,” Kennedy said.
Kennedy today shot down Patton Boggs' motions, saying the firm's effort to amend its original action is “a day late and a dollar short.”
The judge declined to address what he called the “unusual step” Patton Boggs took in filing a new action simultaneous with a motion to reconsider. Chevron has a pending motion to dismiss the latest suit.
"We are gratified that the court denied this baseless motion,” a lawyer for Chevron, Gibson partner Theodore Boutrous Jr., said in an e-mail. “Patton Boggs tried to repackage the same frivolous arguments that the court rejected back in April and the court was right to reject them again."
Patton Boggs partner James Tyrrell Jr., managing partner of the New York and New Jersey offices of the firm, said in a statement: "While it is always difficult to obtain relief on a motion for reconsideration, we had hoped that the issue of Patton Boggs' alleged disqualification could be resolved in a single forum. Judge Kennedy has not ruled on the merits of the disqualification issue but has indicated that any motion for disqualification must be separately ruled upon by each court in which it may be filed."