Justices Won’t Review Climate Change Torts

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Justices Won't Review Climate Change Torts

In a resolute move, the U.S. Supreme Court delivered a blow to fossil fuel giants ExxonMobil Corp., Koch Industries Inc., and the American Petroleum Institute (API), as it declined their latest bid to shift Minnesota’s climate fraud suit from state to federal jurisdiction. This decision, following a petition filed in August, adds another layer of complexity to the ongoing legal battle surrounding climate change.

Justices Won’t Review Climate Change Torts: Supreme Court Upholds State Jurisdiction

The Supreme Court, in a surprising move on Monday, dismissed a petition urging a review of the Eighth Circuit’s decision, which affirmed that Minnesota’s climate fraud case should remain in state court. Justice Brett Kavanaugh, the lone supporter of the petition, expressed his dissent in a court where urgency clashed with jurisdiction.

Justices Won’t Review Climate Change Torts: Fossil Fuel Giants Seek Federal Ground

Exxon, Koch, and API, undeterred by previous similar rejections, pressed on with their plea. They underscored the urgency of the situation, emphasizing the critical need for the Supreme Court’s intervention as climate-related lawsuits gain momentum in state courts. The fossil fuel trio invoked a concurrence by U.S. Circuit Judge David B. Stras, arguing that while the current federal law might not explicitly cover such cases, the essence of climate lawsuits demands federal attention.

Justices Won’t Review Climate Change Torts : Minnesota’s Artful Dodge

Minnesota, however, remained steadfast, asserting that there is no merit in revisiting the Eighth Circuit’s ruling. The state maintained that claims against Exxon, Koch, and API, accusing them of concealing greenhouse gas pollution risks, don’t delve into federal common law issues. Minnesota contended that seven other circuit courts had reached a similar conclusion, discrediting Exxon’s argument of a conflict with other court rulings.

Justices Won’t Review Climate Change Torts : Representations in the Ring

Exxon found representation in Kannon K. Shanmugam, William T. Marks, Theodore V. Wells Jr., and Daniel J. Toal of Paul Weiss Rifkind Wharton & Garrison LLP. Koch enlisted William A. Burck and Michelle Schmit of Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan LLP. The American Petroleum Institute was represented by Brian D. Schmalzbach of McGuireWoods LLP. Minnesota stood its ground with Victor M. Sher, Matthew K. Edling, Martin D. Quiñones, Quentin C. Karpilow, Gretel Lee of Sher Edling LLP, and Oliver Larson and Peter Surdo from the state attorney general’s office.

Supreme Verdict: Denial Echoes in American Petroleum Institute et al. v. Minnesota

In a case labeled American Petroleum Institute et al. v. Minnesota, case number 23-168, the Supreme Court delivered a clear message, opting not to intervene in the complex web of climate change litigation. The legal battle rages on in state courts, leaving the fate of climate change torts hanging in a delicate balance.