Judge dismisses City of Oakland climate case based on nuisance – 2018

From the Opinion:

It may seem peculiar that an earlier order refused to remand this action to state court on the ground that plaintiffs’ claims were necessarily governed by federal law, while the current order concludes that federal common law should not be extended to provide relief. There is, however, no inconsistency. It remains proper for the scope of plaintiffs’ claims to be decided under federal law, given the international reach of the alleged wrong and given that the instrumentality of the alleged harm is the navigable waters of the United States. Although the scope of plaintiffs’ claims is determined by federal law, there are sound reasons why regulation of the worldwide problem of global warming should be determined by our political branches, not by our judiciary.

In sum, this order accepts the science behind global warming. So do both sides. The dangers raised in the complaints are very real. But those dangers are worldwide. Their causes are worldwide. The benefits of fossil fuels are worldwide. The problem deserves a solution on a more vast scale than can be supplied by a district judge or jury in a public nuisance case. While it Case 3:17-cv-06012-WHA Document 236 Filed 06/25/18 Page 15 of 16 United States District Court For the Northern District of California 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 16 remains true that our federal courts have authority to fashion common law remedies for claims based on global warming, courts must also respect and defer to the other co-equal branches of government when the problem at hand clearly deserves a solution best addressed by those branches. The Court will stay its hand in favor of solutions by the legislative and executive branches. For the reasons stated, defendants’ motion to dismiss is GRANTED.

CITY OF OAKLAND, a Mun. Corp., & THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF CALIFORNIA, acting by & through Oakland City Attorney BARBARA J. PARKER, Plaintiffs, v. BP P.L.C., a public limited company of England & Wales, CHEVRON CORPORATION, a Delaware corporation, CONOCOPHILLIPS, a Delaware corporation, EXXON MOBIL CORPORATION, a New Jersey corporation, ROYAL DUTCH SHELL PLC, a public limited company of England & Wales, & DOES 1 through 10, Defendants AND RELATED CASE., No. C 17-06011 WHA, 2018 WL 3109726 (N.D. Cal. June 25, 2018)

Leave a Reply