By Karen Savage
Delaware told a federal court on Friday that its climate fraud case against several fossil fuel entities belongs in state court, where it was filed alleging multiple state law violations.
“The state asserts that removal was improper because the state’s complaint does not raise any federal claims, and the Delaware Superior Court is the appropriate forum for adjudicating the exclusively state-law claims,” the Delaware Attorney General’s Office wrote in a motion to remand the case back to state court.
In the suit, which was filed in September, Delaware Attorney General Kathy Jennings alleges that Exxon, Chevron, BP, Shell, the American Petroleum Institute and several other fossil fuel companies have known for decades that their products cause climate change, but deliberately deceived the public about those harms and what they knew about them.
Jennings accuses the companies of negligent failure to warn, trespass, public nuisance and multiple violations of Delaware’s Consumer Fraud Act (CFA). The AG has asked the court to award damages and attorneys’ fees from all the defendants, and is seeking an additional $10,000 for each willful violation of the CFA by the API, BP, Chevron, Exxon, Hess, Shell Citgo, Marathon, and CNX Resources.
As fossil fuel companies have done in nearly two dozen climate change-related lawsuits filed against them by municipalities across the country, the defendants moved Delaware’s case to federal court in October, arguing that the substance of the state’s claims involve federal issues.
The First, Fourth, Ninth, and Tenth Circuits have upheld determinations by several federal courts that climate change-related cases belong in state courts. The U.S. Supreme Court in October granted a petition by several defendant companies in a suit filed against them by Baltimore and agreed to weigh in on a procedural question related to the Fourth Circuit’s review of jurisdictional issues in that case.
The high court has not yet responded to a request by the companies to expand that review and decide jurisdiction for all climate change-related lawsuits.
Jennings told the court she will further outline her arguments for returning Delaware’s case to state court in a memorandum in support of the remand motion, which she expects to file by Jan. 5.