Another climate change lawsuit against Big Oil returns to state court

The Exxon Mobil Corporation logo is displayed on a monitor above the floor of the New York Stock Exchange in New York, December 30, 2015. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson/File Photo

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  • 1st Circuit again sues Rhode Island climate change lawsuit
  • Four district courts have submitted climate change cases since SCOTUS urged the courts to give the federal premises another view

(Reuters) – A federal appeals court on Monday dealt another blow to efforts by Chevron Corp, Exxon Mobil Corp and other oil companies to force state and local governments to pursue lawsuits claiming they are fueling climate change in federal courts rather than state courts.

The Boston-based 1st US Circuit Court of Appeals for the second time in two years returned a lawsuit filed by the state of Rhode Island in 2018 after rejecting the company’s argument that its claims were governed by or preceded by federal law.

US Circuit Judge O. Rogeriee Thompson called the matter “mind-boggling” and said the court “relyed heavily on our sister circuit analysis in comparable climate change cases,” after three other appeals courts submitted similar lawsuits.

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State courts are generally considered a more plaintiff-friendly place.

The 1st Circuit had ordered the case returned in 2020, but the U.S. Supreme Court last year directed it to examine a second time after a high court gave the companies the opportunity to debate a write-off in a similar case by the city of Baltimore, Maryland. .

Rhode Island Attorney General Peter Neronha, a Democrat, in a statement called Monday’s decision “the right decision.”

“After decades of climate change fraud by fossil fuel defendants, and now nearly four years of delay tactics in our lawsuit to hold them accountable, our residents, workers, businesses and taxpayers are ready to have their day in court,” he said. .

Exxon said it was reviewing the decision and evaluating next steps. Other companies did not immediately comment.

The Rhode Island lawsuit alleges that various oil companies created a public nuisance in the state and failed to adequately warn customers, consumers, and regulators about the risks posed by their fossil fuel products.

The lawsuit seeks to force the company to pay for climate change-related damages, citing taxpayers’ costs to repair roads and bridges and rebuild coastal structures.

Since last year’s US Supreme Court ruling, similar lawsuits have been sent back to state court by the 4th, 9th and 10th US Circuit Courts of Appeals, including the Baltimore lawsuit.

The case is the State of Rhode Island v. Shell Oil Products Co LLC, First US Circuit Court of Appeals, No. 19-1818.

For Rhode Island: Victor Sher from Sher Edling

For Chevron: Theodore Boutrous Jr of Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher

(NOTE: This story has been updated with comments from the Rhode Island attorney general.)

Read more:

Chevron, another energy giant must face California climate change case in state court

Baltimore earns winning spot in climate case against Exxon, BP

US Supreme Court backs energy companies over Baltimore in climate case

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Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

Nate Raymond

Thomson Reuters

Nate Raymond reports on federal justice and litigation. He can be reached at


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