Global Warming Litigation Update

A few weeks ago we blogged about a decision by the Second U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New York that would enable public nuisance claims to proceed against businesses for their contributions to global warming. Two similar cases have now been decided that offer starkly different opinions in the area of climate change litigation. On Friday the Fifth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans reversed the dismissal of a climate change class action brought by Mississippi property owners who claim that greenhouse gases emitted by oil and gas companies contributed to global warming that added to the ferocity of Hurricane Katrina that caused damage to their properties. Hat tip to the Wall Street Journal Law Blog for its post on the decision which cites J. Russell Jackson, a partner at law firm Skadden Arps saying that at a minimum the ruling will invite more climate change litigation in future. Then in another ruling made public last week, a judge on the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California dismissed a public nuisance lawsuit brought by the Alaskan coastal town of Kivalina against 24 energy and utility firms. An article in the New York Times by Jennifer Koons of Greenwire notes that the ruling in Native Village of Kivalina v. Exxon Mobil Corp. explicitly broke from the Second Circuit’s take on whether companies could be held liable for greenhouse gas emissions that contribute to global warming. Appeals are expected in all three cases. Check out I.I.I. information on climate change and insurance.

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