By Karen Savage
Washington D.C. Attorney General Karl Racine urged the U.S. District Court to follow what other circuit judges have already done around the country and send his climate fraud lawsuit against ExxonMobil, BP, Chevron, and Shell to state court.
“Four other district courts and three courts of appeal have also rejected defendants’ same arguments for removal jurisdiction in analogous cases where defendants were parties,” Racine said in a brief filed Monday.
Fossil fuel companies being sued in climate change-related lawsuits have attempted to use many of the same arguments across the country. The companies want the cases heard in federal court, where they think they have a better chance of success.
Thus far, all of those arguments have been rejected and many of the cases are currently proceeding in state court, where they were initially filed.
Washington D.C.’s suit, which was filed in June, alleges the companies knew as early as the 1950s that emissions from their products caused climate change, but instead of warning consumers, they sought to protect their profits. The companies have been shown to have engaged in a decades-long campaign to cast doubt on climate research.
The city is asking the court for an injunction to prevent the companies from continuing the violations and to compensate the city for damage they have caused.
The companies argue the case involves federal regulatory, statutory and constitutional issues and moved the suit to federal court in July.
The AG’s office contends the companies’ alleged deception is a violation of the district’s consumer protection law and does not involve federal claims.
Racine also noted that the district’s suit is “indistinguishable” from a case filed by Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey, who in a suit filed last year, alleges Exxon similarly deceived investors and consumers in violation of her state’s consumer protection act.
Healeys case was also returned to state court after a district court judge was unpersuaded by Exxon’s argument that it belonged in federal court.
“There is nothing different about this case, and it too should be remanded to the Superior Court,” Racine wrote, adding that he was asking the court to award the city attorney’s fees and costs incurred.
“An award of fees is warranted since defendants’ removal was objectively unreasonable, as demonstrated by the unanimous opinions of district and appellate courts across the country rejecting subject matter jurisdiction in substantially similar circumstances.”