Oil Companies Move to Squash New York City Lawsuit

In a response to a lawsuit brought by the City of New York, five of the world’s largest oil companies have jointly responded with a request that U.S. District Judge John F. Keenan reject the suit.

New York’s suit, which names BP, Chevron, ConocoPhillips, ExxonMobil and Royal Dutch Shell as defendants, states that the oil companies are knowingly responsible for climate change and that the damages from emissions include but are not limited to sea level rise, extreme storms, and heat waves.

According to the suit, these ongoing conditions are causing severe economic difficulties and personal suffering. In the complaint, filed January 9, 2018, in New York City, states:

“This lawsuit is based upon the fundamental principle that a corporation that makes a product causing severe harm when used exactly as intended should shoulder the costs of abating that harm. Defendants here produced, marketed, and sold massive quantities of fossil fuels […]despite knowing that the combustion and use of fossil fuels emit greenhouse gases […]”

New York v. BP P.L.C., 18-cv-182, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York

The five oil companies named in the suit, three of whom were served on January 30th, counter that a District Court is not an appropriate venue for such a case. In a motion to dismiss, filed on February 5th, the companies jointly state:

“The Complaint puts squarely at issue federal statutory, regulatory, and constitutional issues; aims to upset bedrock federal-state divisions of responsibility; and has profound implications for the global economy, international relations, and America’s national security […] cases asserting nearly identical claims […] have been universally rejected by U.S. courts.”

Ad[d]ressing Common Grounds in Support of Their Motions to Dismiss Case No. 18 Civ. 182 (JFK)

The move to dismiss cites over 50 legal precedents, 23 statutes and 7 regulations which are provided as evidence of legal precedence for the dismissal of such cases.

Similar cases are being brought against oil companies, notably in California. The California case, which was initiated earlier in 2017, has recently been answered with a similar motion to dismiss. This motion will be considered on May 24th.

As per the New York City Case, Judge John F. Keenan will consider arguments in a hearing scheduled for June 13th, 2018.