Multi-Billion Dollar Lawsuit In CA: Is Climate Change A “Public Nuisance”? 

By on March 26, 2018

March 26, 2018

A lawsuit filed by the cities of Oakland and San Francisco is invoking a “public nuisance” strategy in order to circumvent legal precedents that preclude a conventional tort case, says an analysis from Forbes Legal Newsline contributor Daniel Fisher. The plaintiffs will include evidence that the defendant oil companies tried to mislead the public about what they knew about global warming by funding research that downplayed the problem, although Fisher is skeptical about the relevance of that issue to a public nuisance case. Defendants are five oil companies who argue that climate change is a problem engendered by producers, consumers and governments world-wide, and that among oil companies they were arbitrarily selected. In a separate lawsuit, Chevron, one of the named defendants, has filed a third-party lawsuit against Statoil ASA, the Norwegian state oil company (majority owned by Norway). In that case, says its complaint, Chevron “denies that Plaintiffs are entitled to any relief on their Complaints. However, in the event that Chevron is held liable to Plaintiffs, Chevron is entitled to indemnity and/or contribution from Statoil.” In an unusual move, U.S. District Judge William Alsup has requested that each side in the Oakland-San Francisco case present its view of the climate change issue in a two-hour tutorial for the court. Chevron says in its presentation it will rely on reports from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. “Chevron is neither going to overstate nor understate uncertainties on climate science,” said Avi Garbo, one of its attorneys. Garbo served a number of years as EPA general counsel under President Obama and is now a partner with Gibson Dunn & Crutcher in Washington.

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Forbes

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