Hundreds Of Climate Suits Being Litigated

By on November 8, 2018

November 8, 2018

Hundreds of climate change lawsuits are working their way through U.S. courts, using arguments grounded in a variety of legal theories: tort, fiduciary duty, securities laws and constitutional law. This Today’s General Counsel article looks at the state of the litigation battle in each of these categories, what plaintiffs allege and how it is broached, the strengths and weaknesses of the strategy, and how it might affect the policy debate and the future of the business even if the legal case fails. Among the cases discussed in the TGC article is Juliana v. United States, which was brought by 21 young people in federal court in Oregon. Since that article was published, the Trump administration tried and failed to have a stay on Juliana overturned by the U.S. Supreme Court, and this week the administration filed a new set of appeals with both the U.S. District Court as well as the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. The Supreme Court in its order, quoting the district court, noted this case “is of a different order than the typical environmental case. It alleges that defendants’ actions and inactions—whether or not they violate any specific statutory duty—have so profoundly damaged our home planet that they threaten plaintiffs’ fundamental constitutional rights to life and liberty.” From 1986 to 2004, courts grappled with only 24 climate change related lawsuits. Since 2005, the number of claims filed each year has steadily increased, from a low of 13 claims in 2006 to a recent high of 117 in 2016.

 

 

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Today's General Counsel

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