18 March 2018

US Corporate Law News: Recent ruling reopens federal court for climate tort litigation


U.S. District Judge William H. Alsup ruled that San Francisco and Oakland California's claims, which alleged that Exxon, BP and other fossil fuel producers are liable for global warming, should be governed under federal, not state, law. Judge Alsup drew distinction between the current claim and the U.S. Supreme Court's 2011 ruling in American Electric Power Co. Inc. v. Connecticut and the Ninth Circuit's 2012 ruling in Native Village of Kivalina et al. v ExxonMobil Corp. et al., stating that those rulings only addressed greenhouse gas emitters, not producers like the oil companies in the current claim. As a result of this ruling, oil companies get their wish of keeping climate cases in federal court, which has a higher bar for establishing standing, while cities now have access to federal courts and a judge who appears prepared to address climate change issues in courts. For more information, see California v. BP P.L.C., No. C 17-06011 WHA, 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 32990 (N.D. Cal. Feb. 27, 2018).

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