By Karen Savage
Minnesota’s climate fraud lawsuit against ExxonMobil, three Koch Industries entities and the American Petroleum Institute belongs in state court, Attorney General Keith Ellison said in a motion filed Thursday in U.S. District Court.
The court should also award the state “attorney fees and costs incurred as a result of defendants’ improper removal,” Ellison wrote.
Attorney fees and costs can be ordered if a judge determines “the removing party lacked an objectively reasonable basis” for moving the case to federal court.
Ellison filed the suit in state court in June, alleging the companies violated state laws when they engaged in consumer fraud, deceptive trade practices and false advertising during a decades-long campaign of deception about their role in climate change.
The companies contend the case involves federal claims and moved it to federal court last month, where they think it is more likely to be dismissed.
It is a strategy used by fossil fuel companies facing climate change-related lawsuits across the country, but their arguments—including many presented in the Minnesota case—have largely been rejected.
Federal judges have remanded almost all of the cases back to state court in decisions that have been upheld on appeal. The companies contend the appellate courts, which have said they are only authorized to review one of their arguments, should have reviewed them all and have asked the U.S. Supreme Court to weigh in on the technicality.
In the meantime, the fossil fuel companies have continued to use many of the same arguments to move more recently filed cases, including Minnesota’s and one filed by Washington D.C, to federal court.
Ellison contends the companies’ bid to have Minnesota’s suit heard in federal court should be rejected as well.
In the suit, the AG is seeking damage for harm and an injunction to stop the companies from further deception of Minnesota residents. Ellison also wants the court to order the companies to make all of their climate change-related research available to the public and to fund a campaign to educate the public about the risks their products pose to the climate.
The state is expected to file its memorandum of law by Sept. 10 and oral arguments will likely be scheduled for later this fall.