Hurricane Katrina Victims Have Standing To Sue Over Global Warming

I say BRING IT ON. Finally we’ll get to put this absurdity about the connection between global warming and hurricanes to rest, because, it doesn’t exist. I hope the defense will bring in the findings of Ryan Maue at FSU COAPS as shown below.

12-month running sums of Accumulated Cyclone Energy for the entire globe. 1979-current

From the Wall Street Journal Law Blog

For years, leading plaintiffs’ lawyers have promised a legal assault on industrial America for contributing to global warming.

So far, the trial bar has had limited success. The hurdles to such suits are pretty obvious: How do you apportion fault and link particular plaintiffs’ injuries to the pollution emitted by a particular group of defendants?

Today, though, plaintiffs’ lawyers may be a gloating a bit, after a favorable ruling Friday from the Fifth Circuit in New Orleans, which is regarded as one of the more conservative circuit courts in the country. Here’s a link to the ruling.

The suit was brought by landowners in Mississippi, who claim that oil and coal companies emitted greenhouse gasses that contributed to global warming that, in turn, caused a rise in sea levels, adding to Hurricane Katrina’s ferocity. (See photo of Bay St. Louis, Miss., after the storm.)

For a nice overview of the ruling, and its significance in the climate change battle, check out this blog post by J. Russell Jackson, a Skadden Arps partner who specializes in mass tort litigation. The post likens the Katrina plaintiffs’ claims, which set out a chain of causation, to the litigation equivalent of “Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon.”

The central question before the Fifth Circuit was whether the plaintiffs had standing, or whether they could demonstrate that their injuries were “fairly traceable” to the defendant’s actions. The defendants predictably assert that the link is “too attenuated.”

Read the entire article here

h/t Ron De Haan

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AlexB

May he who is without carbon footprint throw the first stone.

Steve Huntwork

Bring it on!
How was any hypothetical “global warming” responsible for shoddy construction of the dykes around the city of New Orleans?
The State of Mississippi was where hurricane Katrina actually made it’s landfall. New Orleans was a victim of political graft and corruptions, and eventually it caught up with them.

Bill Illis

It is very interesting how weak this storm season has been.
The Philippines got hit with two very bad storms but overall, it is one the lowest seasons in quite some time.
It will be nearly impossible for the global warming equals more hurricanes set to spin this year’s numbers into “dangerous global warming will … “.
It will, of course, still be blamed on global warming somehow.

Evan Jones

This means that the issue will be subject to rules of evidence. That could backfire on the AGW movement.
REPLY: That’s why I say “bring it”. -A

One might wonder if the 5th Circuit issued its ruling with a certain mischievous intent that had little to to do with the merits. Risky. Will Al Gore be allowed to testify as an expert witness? Hmmmm…. not a bad idea…. finally, a member of that administration sent to prison for perjury…. still risky. It will be more like a beauty contest than a dispassionate evaluation of fact and science. It will get argued before a jury carefully selected to have no knowledge of the issue and will get to decide whether they believe some egg-headed guy named Ryan Maue who is probably in the pay of big oil anyway, or the former vice-president of the United States, who danced with Tipper to “You Can Call Me Al”.

tokyoboy

This month Japan was hit by a typhoon without tremendous damage. The last hit was in September 2007. No noticeable change these years.

pyromancer76

I am not sure how “causation” — CO2=AGW — could be argued in a court of law, but wouldn’t it be swell if the single tree serving as THE treemometer and the fraudulent hockey stick had to stand up in court. What if the plaintiffs had to prove that there was no Roman or Medieval warming! Yeah, I agree, bring it on.

pyromancer76

tokyoboy, I lived through Typhoon Melor and it came at Japan as a category 5. Only the wind sheer (and perhaps slightly cooler anomaly ocean temp on the Pacific side) cut it down to a 3 before landfall. I have been reading over and over again for both Pacific and the Atlantic Oceans about the wind sheer decapitating hurricanes/typhoons. Are the oceans warm enough for significant destructiveness but other processes are at work? Anyone want to comment on this phenomenon?

JimB

“Will Al Gore be allowed to testify as an expert witness? Hmmmm…. not a bad idea…. finally, a member of that administration sent to prison for perjury…. still risky.”
I’d be absolutely shocked to see that happen, as if he testifies, he’s open to cross-examination, which he has NEVER allowed during this freak show that he at the very least, helped orchestrate.
JimB

I just want them to try to prove global warming when it isn’t global. The best thermometers show no such warming. I would not want to be the “expert witness” but I will happily turn over the code that I’ve developed to anyone wanting to use it to do defense. I’d even be available at a reasonable hourly rate to do any added development they wanted.

Noelene

The comments at the WSJ suggest it will not get any further,if it does,what if the companies being sued settle out of court?

danbo

My understanding, the formula to estimate hurricane surface winds from the package dropped by hurricane hunters has been changed a number of times.
Does anyone know if these formula changes have been accounted for?
Thanks.
BTW I live near Bay St Louis. The only one I want to sue works for NASA.

a jones

Curious.
I am no expert on US law but I understood that the law in that part of the world differed from the law in the rest of the USA in that it was based on Code Napoleon.
And as such lawyers needed different qualifications and there were consequently various limitations vis a vis laws, judgements etc. reached in the other states of the union.
Any legal eagles around here?
Kindest Regards

Back2Bat

ah, a Bay Rat! I lived in Pass Christian.
[REPLY – Ever read Heinlein’s The Puppet Masters? ~ Evan]

tokyoboy

pyromancer76 (19:17:46) :
>Are the oceans warm enough for significant destructiveness but other processes are at work?
Sorry but as a chemist I am unable to figure out meteorological events, though several TV personalities ascribed the landfall to sea surface temperature rise due to “Global Warming” which I don’t believe at all.
I give this issue over to people with expertise in this field.

Gary

Justice in the legal system happens by a carefully contrived but not infallible accident. Especially when uninformed juries and complex data are involved.

jtom

pyromancer76 –
The oceans are just as warm, maybe warmer this year, as previous years, thus whatever it brings to the table wrt hurricanes should be about the same.
I do cannot address Pacific storms, but I do follow the Atlantic ones. There have been three forces that have caused them to be pretty much still-born. First is, as you mentioned, the wind shear. Strong storms need verticality, and the upper-level winds made that almost impossible. The second was that the general circulation patterns took tropical storms north and east much sooner than in other years. This drove them out of the warm, tropical waters sooner. Third was that the low pressure systems coming off the coast of Africa, which gives birth to the Atlantic storms, was dryer and more dust-laden than usual. The dry air and dust simply kills storm formation. Whether any of those things are inter-related I do not know. The climate, though, is quit obviously more complicated than more CO2 = warmer temps = warmer oceans = more and stronger storms.
My fear is that a sympathetic jury might let the suffering plaintiffs have some money from deep-pocket defendants. If so, the judge will likely find a reason to throw the case out, but it will leave the AGWers something to crow about.

Henry chance

Send algore a summons Take his phoney claims into interrogatories and discovery.
In these liability claims, it takes a lot of testimony. Newspaper clippings are hearsay.
Since we have always had storms, how do we isolate this one? That is a town built below sealevel? And why this storm and not Rita?

D Overcast

That would be sweet. Get Al Gore in court and have the debate he has avoided having under oath. Pipe dream…but wow…wouldn’t that be fun.

jtom

a jones-
Louisiana law is based on the Napoleonic Code unlike the English Common Law of the other states. It’s a moot point, though. The Fifth Circuit Court is a US Court, and federal law applies, not state.
My mother’s house was (note the ‘was’) in Bay St. Louis. From all the reports I got, the eye passed directly over it. Absolutely nothing was left except for the concrete slab. Complete devastation.

James H

This is pretty high-stakes, though. If the plaintiffs prevail, it would open the floodgates to sue anyone that emits CO2. I think that people even exhale CO2, so I guess we’re all responsible. Also, remember in a civil case, the burden is not beyond a reasonable doubt but rather the preponderance of evidence.

Jerry Lee Davis

Steve Huntwork (18:58:51) :
“…..The State of Mississippi was where hurricane Katrina actually made it’s landfall. New Orleans was a victim of political graft and corruptions, and eventually it caught up with them……….”
Steve, please see Katrina’s actual Louisiana landfall at the National Hurricane center link:
http://www.nhc.noaa.gov/archive/2005/KATRINA_graphics.shtml
Not that it will matter much, but I did notice a few hundred Louisiana houses blown down or damaged, not caused by corruption. Thousands of trees were broken in two or blown down, not caused by corruption. A significant part of Slidell, Louisiana (NE of New Orleans), was flooded, not caused by corruption.
The greatest damage in New Orleans was due to the collapse of floodwalls built by the Corp of Engineers. Maybe corruption did cause the design flaws in the floodwalls, but I doubt it. See the following report from Delft University in The Netherlands:
http://www.tudelft.nl/live/pagina.jsp?id=62d6f4f8-0e4a-4e52-9cf7-044ee0185816&lang=en
My point: Inaccuracy in news reporting (regarding landfall) and lack of precision with insults (regarding corruption causing the main damage in New Orleans), will reduce our credibility when we insult our common enemy, the AGWers.

Bulldust

I remember talking to a former legal assistant in Denver (back when I was doing courses at the CSM) and she mentioned a couple cases she had heard about.
In one a guy had used G-clamps to affix his hard shell to the truck (ute), which naturally worked loose as he drove down the highway. The shell flew off into the oncoming traffic on the other side of the motorway tragically causing great injury to a woman & child (I think it was).
Although the truck driver was found to be mostly responsible, there was a very slight culpability (not sure of the exact legalese, but you get my drift) on the part of the shell company for not explicitly posting a disclaimer with respect to using the incorrect mechnism to affix the shell to trucks.
The truck driver had no money, so the shell-manufacturing company ended up paying out.
It could well end up this way in the AGW court action… 99% of the blame might be attributed logically to things such as inadequate levees etc, but if even 1% is apportioned to fossil fuel companies the AGW mob will take it as a win. Therein lies the real danger of the crazy US law system. Sorry, but it is crazy… judges with $60million pants? pulease… that would have been laughed out of court over here in Oz, and the judge stood down for fear of embarrassing the entire judicial system.
PS> It was my understanding that the litigation in Denver was particularly bad in the 1980s-1990s because of all the corporate lawyers looking for work after thr reosurces industry went into the post energy crisis slow down.

David in Davis

While Maue’s Accumulated Cyclone Energy bares no resemblance to atmospheric CO2, it does look a fair bit like the global temperature anomaly shown next to it on your new world climate widget. Is there a recognized weather predictive relationship?

tokyoboy

What is the unit on the ordinate of the top figure? Petajoule or much more? As a presbyope I was unable to find the unit in the Ryan Maue page……..

hunter

The final stages of degeneracy are when the leadership actively seeks the destructoin of the society.
We are there now.

CPT. Charles

Yeah, I question the timing.
If this meant to re-kindle the fires of Copenhagen, good luck.

D. King

So, first they’ll have to prove Global Warming.
Then CO2 is the cause.
Then the CO2 is from industry and not natural.
Then GW causes increased hurricanes.
And then…. natural GW does not exist.
We’re going to need Big bucket of popcorn for this movie.

a jones (19:36:55) :
This ruling occurred in a Federal Circuit Court and the matter originated in Mississippi, so there is no variance in the law as it relates to this matter. What you are referencing is that the US’s and individual state’s legal systems are primarily based on common law, which relies upon case law to establish precedents. However, Louisiana uses a mixed system that draws from both common law and civil law. Civil law relies upon a written collection laws that are established through legislation.
Wikipedia does a pretty good job with this:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Common_law
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Civil_law_%28legal_system%29

Michael

It should be a UFC Championship fight between the IPCC and the Farmers Almnac.

rbateman

So much for the notion of Tort Reform.
Can they call God Almighty to the stand (or whatever your belief states as the Supreme Being) to explain exactly where the Hurricane was headed prior to the steering caused by AGW?
This would make a great Boston Legal episode. Denny Crane calls God to the witness stand.
Judge has a fit, calls them to chambers. Denny proceeds to shoot a Bible declaring “If you rule for the plaintiff, then we have to declare God is dead first”.. Judge goes bananas, puts Crane in the slammer for contempt.
Alan Shore sums up by saying “Every Insurance policy explicity states that they are not responsible for Acts of God”.
Judge throws case out.
Alan pays Denny’s fine.

Bulldust

D. King (20:17:37) :
“We’re going to need Big bucket of popcorn for this movie.”
Remember to use the non-butter flavour stuff… don’t want to get sued for popcorn lung*.
* And some of you probably thought I was making it up…
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bronchiolitis_obliterans.

rbateman

D. King (20:17:37) :
Better than the OJ Trial.
The ratings will be through the roof.
Bring it. We already know the prosecution has ‘contaminated’ the evidence.

I can’t see the oil and gas companies having any option but to defend themselves from this. Otherwise, it will just open the floodgates to all sorts of nuisance claims, even if they were to settle out of court with no fault attached.
In order so that justice can be done, absolutely all the evidence will have to be submitted. This could be the Scopes trial we were talking about in previous threads. Exciting times.

Ron de Haan

Maybe Moncton will have his debate with Gore after all, in court!
The interesting aspect of the legal procedure of course is the fact that they finally put AGW on trial.
Hopefully the trial will start before the new World Government is sworn in (sarc).

Larry

I had already read the article. The article, of course, also says that the plaintiff’s lawyers will still have a problem with causation, with one of the judges on the panel stating that if the causation issue had been part of the appeal, he would have affirmed the dismissal order of the district court.
Being a lawyer, I unfortunately know that this does not stop some lawyers from making absurd arguments with a straight face. It is not a good thing that my profession is trying to do.

George Bruce

5th Circuit? Sounds like a trap to me.

D. King

rbateman (20:31:49) :
We already know the prosecution has ‘contaminated’ the evidence.
But “hot air” decreases the differential.
Less energy transfer.

AnonyMoose

If the oil and gas companies did this, the people filing the suit are participants due to using oil and gas. As those are the only identifiable people, let them pay themselves any penalty.

Neo

As the NRA has always been careful to say …
bad lawsuits make bad law

Eric Anderson

One more piece of nonsense from the legal system, and one more reason tort reform is needed.

Bulldust

Hang on… oil companies don’t cause warming… people who drive cars do!
I am sure I heard something like this before somewhere…

Larry (20:36:39) :
I disagree with Shakespeare and I don’t think it is your profession that is doing anything dishonorable. Some members… perhaps…. but everyone with a grievance needs to be heard at least once… and our system is one of laws, interpretations and precedents. Doesn’t always work well, but there are worse alternatives. Not that there aren’t professionals who don’t game the system…. I’ve been setting a snare all summer for a lawyer who is the sole partner in an LLC that buys bad debts from banks and then files suit for recovery utilizing his law firm, tacking on “attorney fees” twenty percent higher than the norm just for writing the collection letter…. essentially representing himself. This attorney has about two hundred collection cases (more than half his entire case load) where he is representing himself. To my immense surprise the judge assigned to the case has scheduled oral arguments. My attorney friends have been happy to offer advice…. with the caveat that I never heard it from them…. perhaps the Fifth Circuit panel feels somewhat the same way….

vg

whats happened to DMI? seems to be permanently closed (3 weeks now?)

el gordo

Water vapor is responsible for 96% of the Greenhouse Effect, while AGW is responsible for 0.1% of greenhouse gases.
Climate is controlled by water not CO2. Bring it on!

If this suit happens, do “Discovery” on the decisions to delete thermometers over the period from about 1989 to today. I’m fairly certain there is enough evidence of deliberate bias in the deletion of thermometers from the GHCN series to justify a “Discovery process” and that there has likely been some fraudulent action in that thermometer deletion. At this point it is only a pattern of evidence, but discovery ought to turn up something in the pattern of meeting attendance and approval signoffs.
http://chiefio.wordpress.com/2009/10/19/how-to-cook-a-temperature-history/
Proving intent would be the hard part. OTOH, if it is a major party who has been vocal in public about their strong beliefs… (Motive clear, capacity clear, opportunity check, memos & emails mate)
Also, it would be reasonable to try to apply the “disparate impact” standard set in harassment law. You don’t need to prove intent, just that the act had a negative impact. Probably a bit of a stretch, but cases have been won on greater stretches…

Mike Bryant

Indur Goklany’s article here:
http://wattsupwiththat.com/2009/10/12/linking-health-wealth-and-well-being-with-the-use-of-energy/
Should be used in the countersuit… Those people should be sending money to the energy companies…

martin brumby

Unfortunately there is a real danger here and it is not just the danger of the courts awarding cash from “rich” energy companies to destitute hurricane victims.
Remember the Kingsnorth Power Station case in the UK where the eco-fascist morons who vandalised the station were found not guilty by a jury obviously persuaded by Jim Hansen and his gang of clowns.
The interesting thing in that case, which hasn’t been much commented upon:- what kind of prosecution case was put forward? Did they put Lord Monckton (say) up as an expert witness to rubbish Hansen’s testimony? No chance!
What kind of outcome from the Kingsnorth case was Gordon Brown, Ed Miliband and the rest hoping for? The one they got, of course!
And what outcome will Obama hope for in this New Orleans case? No prizes for guessing! Will genuine science, logic and common sense even get an airing in court?
I just hope the US justice system is a bit more robust.

rbateman

Ah, but the ‘blanket’ of C02 they claim causes runaway warming is as thin as saran wrap per 1″ column of air. While saran wrap can be stretched tight, C02 cannot be.
If you buy the “Power of C02” theory, then I have a windowless greenhouse I’d like to sell you.

Ron de Haan

James H (19:59:20) :
This is pretty high-stakes, though. If the plaintiffs prevail, it would open the floodgates to sue anyone that emits CO2. I think that people even exhale CO2, so I guess we’re all responsible. Also, remember in a civil case, the burden is not beyond a reasonable doubt but rather the preponderance of evidence.
If that happens James, we return America to the Indians and move on.