A stack of oil barrels.

State Suits Against Oil Companies

Rhode Island Suit

  • July 2018

    In July 2018, Rhode Island Attor­ney Gen­er­al Peter Kil­martin filed a law­suit in state court against 21 fos­sil fuel com­pa­nies, includ­ing Chevron Cor­po­ra­tion, Exxon Mobil, BP and oth­er major oil pro­duc­ers. The suit advances eight claims against the fos­sil fuel com­pa­nies for pro­duc­ing, pro­mot­ing and mar­ket­ing of fos­sil fuel prod­ucts, while con­ceal­ing the known haz­ards of their prod­ucts. Attor­ney Gen­er­al Kil­martin alleged that the 21 com­pa­nies were direct­ly respon­si­ble for the release of hun­dreds of giga­tons of car­bon diox­ide emis­sions between 1965 and 2015 that have caused harm that Rhode Island has expe­ri­enced and will con­tin­ue to expe­ri­ence in the future. The severe harms include sub­stan­tial sea lev­el rise, more fre­quent and severe flood­ing, extreme pre­cip­i­ta­tion events and drought.

  • July 2018

    That same month, the defen­dant oil com­pa­nies filed a notice of removal action to fed­er­al court. Attor­ney Gen­er­al Kil­martin filed a motion to remand the lit­i­ga­tion back to Rhode Island state court as fed­er­al juris­dic­tion is not appro­pri­ate for Rhode Island’s pure­ly state law-based claims. 

  • June 2019

    In June 2019, new Rhode Island Attor­ney Gen­er­al Peter Nerohna noti­fied the Rhode Island fed­er­al dis­trict court of a well-rea­soned deci­sion in fed­er­al dis­trict court in Mary­land that held that the City of Baltimore’s sim­i­lar law­suit against oil com­pa­nies for cli­mate change impacts belonged in state court.

  • July 2019

    In July 2019, the fed­er­al dis­trict court in Rhode Island sided with the Rhode Island attor­ney gen­er­al in remand­ing the lit­i­ga­tion back to state court as the attor­ney gen­er­al had request­ed. The court found, cit­ing in part the deci­sion in the City of Bal­ti­more lit­i­ga­tion, that there is no fed­er­al juris­dic­tion under the var­i­ous statutes and doc­trines as assert­ed by the defen­dant oil com­pa­nies. The defen­dant oil com­pa­nies have appealed the dis­trict court’s July 2019 deci­sion to the First Cir­cuit Court of Appeals, while Rhode Island’s law­suit con­tin­ues in state court. The defen­dant oil com­pa­nies have appealed the dis­trict court’s July 2019 deci­sion to the First Cir­cuit Court of Appeals, while Rhode Island’s law­suit con­tin­ues in state court.

  • Decem­ber 2019

    In Decem­ber 2019, Rhode Island Attor­ney Gen­er­al Peter Nerohna filed the state’s reply brief in the First Cir­cuit chal­lenge to the dis­trict court’s July 2019 deci­sion that the lit­i­ga­tion belongs in state court. The brief not­ed that a num­ber of fed­er­al courts, includ­ing the court hear­ing the Bal­ti­more lit­i­ga­tion, have con­clud­ed that state law caus­es of action against oil com­pa­nies for cli­mate change-relat­ed injuries belong in state court. The fol­low­ing month, Mass­a­chu­setts Attor­ney Gen­er­al Mau­ra Healey led a coali­tion of thir­teen states in fil­ing an ami­cus brief in sup­port of Rhode Island’s request that the dis­trict court rul­ing be upheld.

  • August 2020

    In August 2020, the Rhode Island Supe­ri­or Court issued a deci­sion stay­ing fur­ther state court con­sid­er­a­tion of Rhode Island’s July 2018 claim pend­ing input that the Supreme Court of the Unit­ed States may pro­vide in anoth­er case that rais­es sim­i­lar juris­dic­tion­al questions.

  • Sep­tem­ber 2020

    In Sep­tem­ber 2020, oral argu­ments were held in the First Circuit’s review of the fed­er­al dis­trict court’s July 2019 deci­sion. The fol­low­ing month, Octo­ber 2020, the First Cir­cuit ruled in favor of Attor­ney Gen­er­al Nerohna, hold­ing that the state’s law­suit belongs in state court as the law­suit con­tains state law-based claims.

New York Suit

  • Octo­ber 2018

    As a result of her office’s inves­ti­ga­tion of Exxon Mobil, New York Attor­ney Gen­er­al Bar­bara Under­wood filed a suit against Exxon in New York state court in Octo­ber 2018. The suit alleges that Exxon mis­led its investors regard­ing the risk that green­house gas emis­sions posed to its busi­ness. Exxon alleged­ly deceived investors in a num­ber of ways, includ­ing by mis­rep­re­sent­ing how the com­pa­ny was account­ing for cli­mate risk.

    The suit seeks an order from the court pro­hibit­ing Exxon from con­tin­u­ing to engage in fraud­u­lent mis­rep­re­sen­ta­tion of the company’s cli­mate risk. The com­plaint also requests the court to award dam­ages, includ­ing a dis­gorge­ment of all monies obtained in con­nec­tion with the alleged fraud and restitution.

  • Decem­ber 2019

    In Decem­ber 2019, fol­low­ing a three week tri­al dur­ing the fall of 2019, a New York state court ruled in favor of Exxon. The court found that Exxon had not mis­lead investors.

Mass­a­chu­setts Suit

  • Octo­ber 2019

    In Octo­ber 2019, as a result of an inves­ti­ga­tion of Exxon Mobil, Mass­a­chu­setts Attor­ney Gen­er­al Mau­ra Healey filed a suit against Exxon in Mass­a­chu­setts state court. The suit alleges that Exxon mis­led investors about the risk green­house gas emis­sions posed to its busi­ness­es. The suit also asserts that the oil com­pa­ny mis­led Mass­a­chu­setts con­sumers by fail­ing to dis­close the impact of its fos­sil fuel prod­ucts on cli­mate change and by sup­port­ing adver­tise­ments that claim the use of its fos­sil fuel prod­ucts reduce green­house gas emis­sions. Mass­a­chu­setts is seek­ing an order that would grant com­pre­hen­sive injunc­tive relief to end decep­tive prac­tices against the state’s investors and consumers.

  • Novem­ber 2019

    In Novem­ber 2019, Exxon filed a removal action to move Massachusetts’s state-law claims to fed­er­al dis­trict court in Mass­a­chu­setts. The fol­low­ing month, Mass­a­chu­setts Attor­ney Gen­er­al Healey filed a mem­o­ran­dum of law in sup­port of its motion to remand the lit­i­ga­tion back to state court to hear the state’s exclu­sive­ly-state law claims against the fos­sil fuel com­pa­ny. In March 2020, the fed­er­al dis­trict court in Mass­a­chu­setts ruled in favor of Attor­ney Gen­er­al Healey and remand­ed the case to Mass­a­chu­setts state court, find­ing that Exxon failed to make required show­ings for removal of the case to the fed­er­al courts. In May 2020, the fed­er­al dis­trict court released a mem­o­ran­dum of deci­sion for the March hold­ing, under­scor­ing that the claims brought by Attor­ney Gen­er­al Healey were, at their core, based on Mass­a­chu­setts con­sumer pro­tec­tion laws and thus state law claims.

Min­neso­ta Suit

  • June 2020

    In June 2020, Min­neso­ta Attor­ney Gen­er­al Kei­th Elli­son filed a law­suit in state court against Exxon Mobil and oth­ers, includ­ing the Amer­i­can Petro­le­um Insti­tute (API). The law­suit advances five claims of: fraud; fail­ure to warn con­sumers of a dan­ger­ous prod­uct; and vio­lat­ing statutes pro­hibit­ing con­sumer fraud, decep­tive trade prac­tices and false state­ments in adver­tis­ing. Attor­ney Gen­er­al Elli­son alleges that the defen­dants under­stood since the 1970s the dev­as­tat­ing effects that their prod­ucts would cause the cli­mate, includ­ing Min­neso­ta, but engaged in a high­ly-effec­tive pub­lic-rela­tions cam­paign to mis­lead Min­nesotans about the con­se­quences of using their prod­uct. Dur­ing this peri­od, Min­neso­ta suf­fered bil­lions of dol­lars of eco­nom­ic harm due to cli­mate change, while the defen­dants reaped bil­lions in prof­its by sell­ing their products.

  • July 2020

    In July 2020, the fol­low­ing month, the defen­dant oil com­pa­nies filed a notice of removal action with the fed­er­al dis­trict court in Min­neso­ta. The oil com­pa­nies argue that the suit involves com­plex fed­er­al statu­to­ry, reg­u­la­to­ry and con­sti­tu­tion­al issues that should be heard by a fed­er­al court.

  • August 2020

    Dur­ing the fol­low­ing month, August 2020, Min­neso­ta Attor­ney Gen­er­al Elli­son filed a motion to remand the state’s law­suit back to state court. The motion not­ed that removal to fed­er­al court was improp­er because the law­suit does not raise any fed­er­al claims and that Ram­sey Dis­trict Court is the appro­pri­ate forum for adju­di­cat­ing the exclu­sive­ly state-law based claims. 

  • Novem­ber 2020

    In Novem­ber 2020, the defen­dants filed their brief in oppo­si­tion to Minnesota’s motion to remand the lit­i­ga­tion back to state court.

Dis­trict of Colum­bia Suit

  • June 2020

    In June 2020, Dis­trict of Colum­bia Attor­ney Gen­er­al Karl Racine filed a law­suit in a Dis­trict of Colum­bia court against Exxon Mobil, Shell Oil, BP and Chevron. The law­suit includes four claims against the defen­dants for vio­lat­ing the District’s Con­sumer Pro­tec­tion Pro­ce­dures Act (CPPA) by sys­tem­at­i­cal­ly and inten­tion­al­ly mis­lead­ing Dis­trict con­sumers about the cen­tral role their oil and gas prod­ucts play in caus­ing cli­mate change. The harms caused by cli­mate change include increased sea lev­els; increased ocean tem­per­a­tures; extreme weath­er, includ­ing heat and drought; dam­age to pub­lic infra­struc­ture and social sys­tems; and exac­er­bat­ing eco­nom­ic inequality.

  • July 2020

    The fol­low­ing month, in July 2020, the defen­dant oil com­pa­nies filed a notice of removal action to the fed­er­al dis­trict court in the Dis­trict of Colum­bia. The oil com­pa­nies assert the Dis­trict of Columbia’s law­suit involves com­plex areas of fed­er­al statu­to­ry, reg­u­la­to­ry, and con­sti­tu­tion­al reg­u­la­tion on cli­mate change that should be heard by a fed­er­al court.

  • August 2020

    Dur­ing the fol­low­ing month, August 2020, Dis­trict of Colum­bia Attor­ney Gen­er­al Racine filed a motion to remand the law­suit back to the Dis­trict of Colum­bia Supe­ri­or Court as it is the appro­pri­ate forum for adju­di­cat­ing exclu­sive­ly Dis­trict of Colum­bia law claims under the CPPA. Fur­ther Attor­ney Gen­er­al Racine point­ed out that fed­er­al juris­dic­tion is improp­er because the District’s law­suit does not arise under the assert­ed fed­er­al statutes or con­sti­tu­tion­al provisions.

  • Octo­ber 2020

    In Octo­ber 2020, the defen­dant oil com­pa­nies filed their brief in oppo­si­tion to the District’s motion to remand the law­suit back to local court.

Delaware Suit

  • Sep­tem­ber 2020

    In Sep­tem­ber 2020, Delaware Attor­ney Gen­er­al Kathy Jen­nings filed a law­suit in Delaware state court against mul­ti­ple oil com­pa­nies, includ­ing Chevron, and API. The law­suit advances four claims: fail­ure to warn; tres­pass; nui­sance; and vio­lat­ing the Delaware Con­sumer Fraud Act. The claims stem from the oil industry’s knowl­edge for more than 50 years that the industry’s pro­duc­tion of fos­sil fuels gen­er­ates green­house gas emis­sions that con­tribute to cli­mate change. The suit alleges that the com­pa­nies have waged a coor­di­nat­ed effort to cre­ate per­sis­tent doubts in the minds of cus­tomers, reg­u­la­tors, the media and the pub­lic, includ­ing in Delaware, about the con­se­quences of the use of their prod­ucts. As a result of the defen­dants’ con­duct, Delaware has suf­fered cli­mate change impacts — sea lev­el rise, more fre­quent and intense extreme pre­cip­i­ta­tion events, and oth­er harms — along with relat­ed eco­nom­ic and pub­lic health impacts that will dis­pro­por­tion­ate­ly impact peo­ple of col­or and peo­ple liv­ing in poverty.

  • Octo­ber 2020

    In Octo­ber 2020, Chevron filed a notice of removal of the com­plaint to the fed­er­al dis­trict court in Delaware. Chevron con­tend­ed that fed­er­al juris­dic­tion is prop­er because plaintiff’s claims arise under fed­er­al law, the action is removal under the fed­er­al-offi­cer removal statute, and the com­plaint is com­plete­ly pre­empt­ed by fed­er­al law.

  • Novem­ber 2020

    In Novem­ber 2020, Attor­ney Gen­er­al Jen­nings filed a motion to remand the law­suit back to Delaware state court. The motion not­ed that removal to fed­er­al court was improp­er because the state’s com­plaint does not raise any fed­er­al claims and the state court is the appro­pri­ate forum for adju­di­cat­ing the exclu­sive­ly state-law claims brought by Delaware.

  • Jan­u­ary 2021

    In Jan­u­ary 2021, Attor­ney Gen­er­al Jen­nings filed the state’s open­ing brief in sup­port of the motion to remand the lit­i­ga­tion back to state court. The brief assert­ed that fed­er­al com­mon law does not pro­vide a basis for remov­ing the law­suit to fed­er­al court and that there is no fed­er­al-offi­cer removal juris­dic­tion because no fed­er­al offi­cer direct­ed the defendant’s harm­ful con­duct. Addi­tion­al­ly, the case can prop­er­ly be heard in state court because the complaint’s state law-claims are not com­plete­ly pre­empt­ed by fed­er­al law.

Con­necti­cut Suit

  • Sep­tem­ber 2020

    In Sep­tem­ber 2020, Con­necti­cut Attor­ney Gen­er­al William Tong filed a law­suit in Con­necti­cut state court against Exxon Mobil. The law­suit advances eight claims against the oil com­pa­ny for pro­duc­ing, pro­mot­ing and mar­ket­ing its oil prod­ucts for decades, while engag­ing in a cam­paign of decep­tion to con­ceal from Con­necti­cut con­sumers that burn­ing fos­sil fuels con­tributes to cli­mate change. Attor­ney Gen­er­al Tong notes that Exxon Mobil’s actions include mul­ti­ple vio­la­tions of the Con­necti­cut Unfair Trade Prac­tices Act (CUT­PA) that have caused harm in Con­necti­cut, through ris­ing sea lev­els, wildlife degra­da­tion and prop­er­ty deval­u­a­tion and dam­age for the state’s residents.

  • Octo­ber 2020

    In Octo­ber 2020, Exxon Mobil filed a notice of removal of Connecticut’s com­plaint to fed­er­al dis­trict court in Con­necti­cut. Exxon Mobil assert­ed three grounds for removal — fed­er­al ques­tion juris­dic­tion, diver­si­ty juris­dic­tion and statu­to­ry and con­sti­tu­tion­al grants of orig­i­nal juris­dic­tion for fed­er­al courts.

  • Decem­ber 2020

    In response, Con­necti­cut Attor­ney Gen­er­al Tong filed a motion to remand the lit­i­ga­tion back to state court in Con­necti­cut. The brief not­ed that no fed­er­al ques­tion is raised under the state’s CUT­PA action, diver­si­ty juris­dic­tion is not appro­pri­ate and that no oth­er grant of orig­i­nal juris­dic­tion is rel­e­vant to Connecticut’s claim.