By Karen Savage
The First Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that state court is the proper venue to hear Rhode Island’s climate liability lawsuit against Exxon, BP, Shell, Chevron, and ConocoPhillips, another setback for the industry that continually seeks to have these cases heard in federal court.
The appellate court agreed with the Fourth, Ninth, and Tenth circuits about state court jurisdiction in similar cases. All have upheld lower court rulings and sent similar lawsuits filed by Baltimore and communities in California and Colorado respectively to state court.
That makes this the fourth in a string of defeats for the fossil fuel companies, which believe they have a better chance of getting them dismissed in federal courts, which have traditionally ruled that climate-related issues should be tackled by the executive and legislative branches and not the courts.
Like the other appellate courts, the Fourth Circuit rejected the companies’ contention that the case belongs in federal court under the Federal Officer Removal Statute, which gives federal courts jurisdiction over civil actions directed at the United States or any federal official.
“There is simply no nexus between anything for which Rhode Island seeks damages and anything the oil companies allegedly did at the behest of a federal officer,” Judge O. Rogeriee Thompson wrote in the ruling.[Read more…]