Plaintiffs dodge a bullet in SCOTUS ruling for Big Oil

Plaintiffs dodge a bullet in SCOTUS ruling for Big Oil

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The Supreme Court ruled narrowly in favor of oil companies seeking to avoid liability for the costs of climate change but litigation in this case, brought by the city of Baltimore, and in cases brought by states and municipalities across the country, is expected to continue.

The 7-1 majority sent the case back to the Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit to reconsider Big Oil’s efforts to have the suits heard in federal court where they believe they will find a friendlier audience. The narrow ruling “was a bullet dodged” for Baltimore and other plaintiffs across the country, Patrick Parenteau, an expert on environmental law at Vermont Law School, told the New York Times.

“The oil companies were looking for a kill shot,” he said, that would have sent a message to lower courts that similar cases would be received sceptically by the court, but Justice Gorsuch’s ruling focused on procedural issues. Bob Percival, director of the University of Maryland’s Environmental Law Program agreed. “The oil companies were hoping that the court would reach out and quash all climate litigation. And the court hasn’t done that,” he told E&E.

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