New York City Appeals Global Warming Lawsuit Against Oil Companies
By: Michael Bastasch
New York City appealed a federal judge’s July decision to toss out the city’s global warming suit against five major oil companies.
The city’s appeal says U.S. District Court Judge John Keenan erred in dismissing the suit with prejudice, arguing the judge “erroneously concluded that various federal law doctrines barred the city’s claims.”
“No federal policy or statute regulates the relief sought in this suit — compensation for local harms resulting from the effects of climate change — or purports to prevent state-law tort suits seeking such relief,” city lawyers wrote in the appeal filed last Thursday in a federal appeals court.
New York City was one of at least four other localities to bring suit against ExxonMobil, Chevron, BP, Royal Dutch Shell and ConocoPhillips over the alleged damages wrought by man-made warming.
“Judge Keenan rightly tossed this lawsuit,” Tom Stebbins, executive director of the Lawsuit Reform Alliance of New York, told The Daily Caller News Foundation in an emailed statement.
Stebbins also railed against New York City’s reliance on trial lawyers to bring their case against oil companies. The city initially filed its lawsuit in January.
“Policy should be decided in the statehouse, not the courthouse,” Stebbins said. “An issue as crucial and complex as climate change needs real leadership from elected officials, not private personal injury lawyers looking to cash in and line their own pockets.”
Trials lawyers with the firm Hagens Berman Sobol Shapiro LLP aided New York City, San Francisco, Oakland and Washington state’s King County in suing oil companies over global warming, working in exchange for a percentage of any winnings, called a contingency fee.
Hagens Berman stood to earn billions of dollars from a favorable judgement against oil companies. Cities that sued claimed billions of dollars worth of damage from global warming induced by fossil fuels.
Mayor Bill de Blasio said in January that “[w]e’re looking for billions to make up for what they’ve done to us,” referring to the alleged damages from global warming, including Superstorm Sandy.
New York City’s appeal comes nearly one month after state Attorney General Barbara Underwood filed suit against Exxon for allegedly misleading investors about the risks it faces in the future from climate regulations.
A U.S. District Court judge in Northern California in June struck down lawsuits brought by the cities of San Francisco and Oakland against oil companies.
However about six other California cities are also suing oil companies over global warming, but are being represented by another plaintiff’s firm, Sher Edling.