Archive for oil

King County Drops Suit Against Fossil Fuel Giants Chevron, Exxon, BP and Others

A Washington state court lawsuit accusing five large oil companies of influencing climate change has been dropped. King County, home to Seattle, accused fossil fuel companies, including Exxon Mobil, Chevron and BP Plc of contributing to current climate conditions like global warming.

A recent filing stated the county is voluntarily abandoning the suit. In the lawsuit, the county alleged the companies were a public nuisance and committed trespassing in their production and marketing of fossil fuels.

Over the last four years, two dozen state and municipal plaintiffs filed lawsuits similar to this one. King County is the first one to end its lawsuit. The case asked for hundreds of millions in damages caused by the manufacturing and marketing of fossil fuel.

King County lawyer Matthew Pawa did not comment, and King County did not respond to requests for comment.

The county wanted the companies to provide funding for planned spending to protect residents from rising sea levels, increased flooding and other projected changes in the climate caused by global warming.

Casey Norton, an Exxon spokesperson, said lawsuits like this don’t advance meaningful measures to reduce climate change and waste millions of taxpayer dollars. Paul, Weiss, Rifkind Wharton and Garrison represent Exxon.

There has been no comment from Chevron or BP. Theodore Boutrous of Gibson, Dunn and Crutcher is one of Chevron’s lawyers. Arnold and Porter Kaye Scholer represent BP in this matter.

Patrick Parenteau of Vermont Law School and Dan Farber of the California Berkeley School of Law — both environmental law experts — expressed surprise that the case ended so suddenly. However, Farber believes the county’s retreat from the suit may be a developing legal tactic.

Farber stated King County could be regearing its lawsuit to follow other states and municipalities that have focused their lawsuits on promotional claims. “I think it will give King County a stronger case,” Farber said.

Massachusetts, Vermont and other state attorneys’ generals filed lawsuits recently stating consumers are being deceived by fossil fuel companies about the harm their products cause. Some legal experts think these lawsuits have a better chance at success since the claims accuse companies of violating state law instead of the nuisance claim filed by King County.


Class Action Lawsuit Filed Against Energy Companies in the Wake of Huntington Beach Oil Spill

The environment has been a significant area of focus during the past few years, and it was devastating to hear that a massive oil spill took place off the coast of Huntington Beach, California. Unfortunately, there are some people who believe that some of the damage to the wildlife in the area, including the fish and bird populations, could be permanent. Now, it is time for the oil companies who are responsible for this spill to take time to be held accountable for their actions.

Recently, a federal lawsuit was filed in the Central District of California Western Division. The lawsuit claims that the companies in charge of operating the rig and associated pipeline caused direct harm to the ecosystem, wildlife, and people who live there. The lawsuit alleges that these companies should have taken more actions to prevent oil from spilling from the platform, which is located approximately 4.5 miles from shore.

The lawsuit also alleges that the defendants did not provide the public with adequate notice of the hazard and the potential impacts of the oil spill. Deceased animals have been washing up on the beach covered in oil. The shorelines of the impacted area have suffered a significant amount of environmental damage. Unfortunately, there are some experts who believe the damage to the environment could be irreversible.

The affected area of the oil spill stretches from Newport Beach to Huntington Beach. The defendants include Beta Operating Company, Amplify Energy Corporation, and numerous other Affiliates. Sadly, as many as 144,000 gallons of oil leaked into the Pacific Ocean after a pipe burst. This led to a massive oil chain standing close to six nautical miles off the coast of Huntington Beach. As numerous beaches were closed to the public, the disaster continued to get worse. Plants and animals were irreparably damaged, and countless people turned out to volunteer. It will be interesting to track a lawsuit as it goes through the legal system. Even though the oil companies should be expected to mount a vigorous defense, the impacts on the environment are not in dispute. It will take a long time to clean this mess up, and those who are responsible for the disaster should have a hand in doing so.

DeJoria v. Maghreb Petroleum Exploration

John Paul DeJoria, the tycoon who created Paul Mitchell hair care products, decided to venture into oil exploration. With the blessing of the Moroccan government, he set about doing this, but the reserves never materialized. DeJoria abandoned the project and is now being sued for $100 million by Maghreb Petroleum Exploration, the new manager. Originally filed in Moroccan courts, the case has been brought to Texas, as Maghreb is seeking enforcement of the judgment.

Reversals in the Texas District and Circuit Courts

The Texas district court refused to recognize the decision based on the lack of due process in Moroccan courts. However, the Fifth Circuit reversed the decision, stating that under the Texas UFMJRA, which recognizes the decisions of foreign courts, a lack of due process wasn’t enough to refuse recognition.

Subsequently, DeJoria’s lawyers went before the Texas legislature to amend the UFMJRA. Texas adopted the UFCMJRA, which allows failures of due process to result in non-recognition. Ironically, the new statute had a look-back clause, allowing it to be applied retroactively to pending cases.

On these dubious grounds, DeJoria was able to restate his case. The Texas district court found that DeJoria did not receive due process, stating the defendant couldn’t attend the Moroccan proceedings or obtain representation there. On appeal, the Fifth Circuit stated it would only look at the case again for errors of fact — despite the that there was no presentation of evidence thus far in the Texas portion of the conflict. In other words, the nonrecognition was based solely on affidavits.

What Makes This Case an Anomaly?

Texas law allowed for this finding, despite the fact that a claim must be pleaded and proven. To avoid a trial, DeJoria could have filed a Civil Procedure and brought a motion for summary judgment. This would have prevented a finding of fact.

The Fifth Circuit affirmed that DeJoria had a valid defense to recognition. His inability to present his case in Moroccan court denied his right to due process. Therefore, the Texas courts refused to recognize the decision of the Moroccan courts.