By Karen Savage
With climate liability suits filed by nearly two dozen municipalities now proceeding in state, federal and appellate courts across the country, there’s a lot to keep up with. Here’s a quick look at where the cases stand and what we’ll be following in the coming weeks.
A suit filed by the counties of Boulder and San Miguel and the city of Boulder against ExxonMobil and Suncor Energy is proceeding in state court, with a hearing on a motion to dismiss filed by the companies is scheduled for June 1.
The defendants have appealed the ruling by a federal court judge that the case belongs in state court. The Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals heard arguments last month and a decision is pending.
Rhode Island’s suit against Exxon, BP, Shell, Chevron, ConocoPhillips and more than a dozen other fossil fuel companies is proceeding in state court, but the companies are continuing to appeal to move them to federal court. In state court, both sides have completed briefs on the defendants’ motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim. Briefing is underway on motions to dismiss for personal jurisdiction, also filed by the defendants. Oral arguments have not yet been scheduled.
The companies have appealed the ruling by a U.S. District Court judge that the case belongs in state court. The briefing process is complete but the First Circuit Court of Appeals has not yet scheduled oral arguments.
Baltimore’s suit against ExxonMobil, Chevron, Shell and 23 other fossil fuel producers and distributors is proceeding in state court after the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals ordered that it should be heard there, although the companies are appealing that ruling. Briefing is complete in state court on the defendants’ motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim. Briefing is underway on motions to dismiss for personal jurisdiction, also filed by the defendants. Oral arguments have not yet been scheduled.
The U.S. Supreme Court is deciding whether to accept the companies’ petition asking the high court to review the Fourth Circuit’s determination that the case belongs in state court.
The dismissal of cases filed by Oakland and San Francisco against Exxon, Chevron, Shell, BP, and ConocoPhillips was recently overturned by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. The case has been returned to federal court, where U.S. District Court Judge William Alsup was ordered to determine if the companies have other valid reasons to keep the case in federal court. If not, Alsup was directed to return the case to state court.
Suits filed by the cities of Imperial Beach, Richmond, and Santa Cruz, as well as the counties of Marin, San Mateo, and Santa Cruz against Chevron, Exxon, Shell, Citco, ConocoPhillips, Peabody Energy, and more than 30 other fossil fuel companies are scheduled to proceed in state court, after the Ninth Circuit recently confirmed a district court judge’s ruling that those cases belong in state court.
Unlike the others, New York City filed its suit against BP, Chevron, ConocoPhillips, ExxonMobil, and Royal Dutch Shell in federal court alleging violations of federal law. The suit was dismissed by a district court judge, who ruled that the claims involve greenhouse gas emissions and are displaced by the Clean Air Act. The city maintains it is not attempting to regulate emissions and has appealed to the Second Circuit Court of Appeals. Oral arguments were heard in November and a decision is expected soon.
Cases filed by the city and county of Honolulu, King County, Wash., and the Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen’s Association have all been paused pending the Ninth Circuit’s ruling on jurisdiction. They are expected to proceed in state court shortly.
The climate fraud lawsuit filed against Exxon by Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey will proceed in state court after a recent federal court ruling that it belongs there.