Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Litigation: Big Oil = Big Tobacco

From The Atlantic:

Climate-change litigation is heating up. Will the legal strategy that brought down Big Tobacco work against Big Oil?

During the tobacco wars of the 1990s, attorneys Steve Susman and Steve Berman stood on opposite sides of the courtroom. Berman represented 13 states in what was then seen as a quixotic attempt to recover smoking-related medical costs, and conceived the strategy that would break the tobacco industry’s back: an emphasis on charges of conspiracy to deceive the public about the dangers of cigarettes.

Susman had turned down offers to represent Massachusetts and Texas against the cigarette makers; instead he defended Philip Morris—until 1998, when the industry settled for more than $200 billion, the biggest civil settlement ever. Now, a decade later, the two lawyers find themselves on the same side of the aisle, working on a case that seems just as improbable as the ones that brought down Big Tobacco ever did—and with implications that could be at least as far-reaching....MORE