By Karen Savage
ExxonMobil says a climate fraud lawsuit filed against it by the Massachusetts attorney general is illegal and designed to silence its views on climate change.
Exxon is preparing a motion to dismiss the suit as a SLAPP suit—strategic lawsuits against public participation—after telling the AG’s office in August that the case must be dismissed under Massachusetts’ anti-SLAPP statute. The motion to dismiss, the AG’s opposition brief, and Exxon’s reply, are currently being assembled and filed as a package with the court in December.
SLAPP lawsuits are designed to harass and intimidate those exercising their First Amendment rights. They are most often filed by corporations or other powerful entities in an attempt to silence activists, consumers, community advocates and journalists. Many states have passed laws prohibiting such suits, because those being sued often lack the resources to defend themselves against wealthy corporations.
Under Massachusetts’ law, defendants who file motions to dismiss under the state’s anti-SLAPP law are entitled to have their motion heard as quickly as possible. More importantly in this instance, the motion automatically halts the discovery process until the court has ruled on the motion.
“For more than four years, Exxon has made repeated attempts to stonewall my office’s efforts to seek the truth about Exxon’s climate deception and enforce our state law protecting consumers and investors— and this meritless motion is no different,” Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey said in a statement.[Read more…]