Dust off your old property texts and grab your briefcases, ladies and gentlemen! We're off to the races in private party climate change class action litigation!
Yesterday the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit became the second federal appeals court in less than a month to reverse a trial court decision that had thrown out a climate change lawsuit for presenting a nonjusticiable political question. See Comer v. Murphy Oil USA, 2009 WL 3321493 (5th Cir. Oct. 16, 2009).
(The Second Circuit previously had held that in the absence of comprehensive federal legislation regulating greenhouse gas emissions, states, municipalities and certain private organizations had standing to bring viable federal common law nuisance claims to impose caps on certain companies' greenhouse gas emissions. See Connecticut v. American Elec. Power Co., 2009 WL 2996729 (2d Cir. Sept. 21, 2009. A good description of that opinion can be found here.)
Comer is particularly important because it is a private class action for compensatory and punitive damages, not a suit brought by states or municipalities for injunctive relief. And that means contingency fees. And thus the promise of copycat lawsuits....MORE
HT: Point of Law who notes:
...The new opinion is Comer v. Murphy Oil (PDF). We covered the Second Circuit decision in Connecticut v. American Electric Power here and earlier, and (by contrast) a trial judge's dismissal (PDF) of the Kivalina suit here.