Supreme court rejects hearing Hurricane Katrina AGW claim

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From BusinessInsurance.com:

Supreme Court won’t hear global warming case

WASHINGTON —The U.S. Supreme Court decided Monday not to review a pivotal global warming case brought by coastal residents seeking damages for property damage caused by Hurricane Katrina.

In Ned Comer et al. vs. Murphy Oil USA et al., a group of Mississippi property owners alleged that greenhouse gas emissions of Murphy Oil USA—through more than 100 oil, coal and chemical companies—contributed to climate change and furthered the property damage caused by Hurricane Katrina in 2005.

A federal district court in Mississippi dismissed the assertions on grounds that they presented a political question that could not be decided by the courts. However, a three-judge panel of the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans reversed the lower court’s ruling in October 2009 and allowed the claims to proceed.

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more here:

http://www.businessinsurance.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20110110/NEWS/110119986

This bit of good news comes to us thanks to WUWT reader Paul from Sweden.

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73 thoughts on “Supreme court rejects hearing Hurricane Katrina AGW claim

  1. A huge area in Queensland in Australia is currently flooded and Brisbane, the capital city, is under threat. An article in the Guardian today blames La Niña.
    Australia floods: La Niña to blame
    http://wattsupwiththat.com/2011/01/12/supreme-court-rejects-hearing-hurricane-katrina-agw-claim/#more-31475
    Professor Neville Nicholls at Monash University and president of the Australian Meteorological and Oceanographic Society is quoted as saying:
    “The extent to which any of this – the floods, warm oceans, or very strong La Niña – is linked to global warming is unknown, because the requisite studies to test this have simply not been done yet.”
    Professor Vicky Pope, head of climate change advice at the (British) Met Office is less cautious.
    “As the average global temperature increases one would expect the moisture content of the atmosphere to rise, due to more evaporation from the sea surface. For every 1C sea surface temperature rise, atmospheric moisture over the oceans increases by 6-8%. Also in general, as more energy and moisture is put into the atmosphere [by warming], the likelihood of storms, hurricanes and tornadoes increases.”

  2. Some sense from the Supreme Court? Given the current group of judges, this is somewhat shocking to me.
    Aren’t these most of the same donkeys that agreed that CO2 is a harmful pollutant under the Clean Air Act? Maybe they read WUWT, now!

  3. Professor Vicky Pope, head of climate change advice at the (British) Met Office is less cautious.
    “As the average global temperature increases one would expect the moisture content of the atmosphere to rise, due to more evaporation from the sea surface. For every 1C sea surface temperature rise, atmospheric moisture over the oceans increases by 6-8%. Also in general, as more energy and moisture is put into the atmosphere [by warming], the likelihood of storms, hurricanes and tornadoes increases.”

    Every time I read this crap my eyes get sore from involuntarily rolling.
    So, Vicky, I’m sitting here looking at the Argos data. Where’s your freaking warming Vicky?
    But hey, George Bush sent Katrina because he hates black people. (See? Your eyes just rolled too)

  4. Since we can’t sue Mother Nature, we sue the “deep pockets”. There’s an old saying about lawyers: “One lawyer in a small town will starve to death. Two lawyers in a small town can make a handsome living”.

  5. It is great to see Vicky Dope, head of climate change advice at the (British) Met Office dismissing the scientific method, as usual, in favour of her gut feeling.
    “As the average global temperature increases one would expect the moisture content of the atmosphere to rise, due to more evaporation from the sea surface.”
    I thought rigorous science was about being prepared for the unexpected rather than gut feeling. Dope is well suited to her pious role.

  6. I don’t think your textual summary quite sets out the true position according to the link given. Would it be better perhaps (corrections in []’s):
    “A federal district court in Mississippi dismissed the assertions on grounds that they presented a political question that could not be decided by the courts. While a three-judge panel of the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans [initially] reversed the lower court’s ruling in October 2009 and allowed the claims to proceed […that decision was later itself reversed by the same Court of Appeals, allowing the Mississippi Court’s original decision to stand. The Supreme Court has decided that it will not intervene in this particular case.]”

  7. And the future of the world’s economy rests on a single man, a simple 5-4 majority against a world of propaganda and eco-zealous doctrine.

  8. That real is laughable, why do people in the US want to sue for everything?
    They might as well try and sue James Watt’s descendants for creating the steam engine and it’s part in the industrial revolution!

  9. One afterthought to my earlier post: the Supreme Court decision leaves Prof Hansen well behind the loop in preparing his much-vaunted legal case for the courts.
    The Supreme Court apparently accepted that the effect of “greenhouse emissions” was a political, not justiciable, issue. This is a really significant decision.

  10. If I wreck my car sliding on the ice and snow today, from the latest heavy snowfall, can I also sue everybody that contributed to “global warming”

  11. @SteveE says:
    January 12, 2011 at 2:28 am
    “That real is laughable, why do people in the US want to sue for everything?”

    It’s called, “Jackpot Justice.” If you can’t earn your own money you sue the deepest pockets to get someone else’s money.

  12. Brisbane is built on a flood plain, and for years the Aussies referred to “The Wet”. In fact on of Neville Shute’s books was titled “In the Wet” and describes the regular flooding between Brisbane and Cairns in some detail.
    Perhaps more interesting as a book published in 1953 and fortelling what could happen in the 1980’s – Neville Shute describes how a UK Left Wing government is devious, manipulative and bullying.
    Focussing on CO2 driven “Climate Change” (SORRY! – Climate DISRUPTION!) rather than taking care of little details like drainage is the real cause as such El Nino events have happened in the past. Hence my total contempt for the Warmists who first bleat “Weather not Climate” when the cold hits. Then when they are laughed at, they try to make out Cooling is really Warming, then floods in the Brisbane flood plain is “linked to Climate Change”.
    The reality is that – tragic as these events are – they have happened before but are made worse by the urbanisation of flood plains. We can waste money on reducing CO2 if you want – but for my tax hit – i would rather see effective drainage and building controls.
    The specifics are different but the overall prediction of how the Left acts is quite remarkable.

  13. Strange how 3 cold winters in the UK according to Vicky Pope is no worthy of mention except as ‘Its just weather not climate’ but a flood (Aussie 2011 and Pakistan 2010) or heatwave (Russia) is jumped on as Climate. Double standards and just confirms my gut feeling there never was a cold forecast for the 2010 winter in the UK.

  14. I agree with TimC that you do not have the legal status of the case described correctly. Although the initial 3-judge panel reversed the district court, the fifth circuit eventually ended up dismissing the appeal, thereby allowing the district court decision to stand.
    By deciding not to review the case, the United States Supreme Court has not expressed a view on the merits of the district court’s decision, one way or the other. The Supreme Court agrees to review only a tiny fraction of the cases presented to it and does not affirm or reverse a lower court decision when it decides not to review it.

  15. I live in the Washington DC area, the epicenter of US global warming regulation and legislation. I believe the largest single emitter of greenhouse gases here are from government sources. The largest employer is the Federal Govt, so besides power plants, they would be the largest generator of CO2. There are also at least four trash incinerators that burn waste in the area (the landfills have been closed). Thus, second to the Federal Govt, the second largest emitter of CO2 (other than power plants) would be the local govts that operate these incinerators. They burn waste because it is the best way to get rid of it. Come to think about it, this is why the best fuel to burn to produce electricity is coal. So bottom line, here in DC, the govt does not walk the talk.

  16. Flooding in the recent past in th UK was caused by the same silly human behaviour as the current Australian flooding – covering flood plains with suburbs, ignoring the fact that a ‘flood plain’ is so named for a very specific reason. It seems this phenomenon occurs everywhere in the Western world when developers spy an area of level grassland near a river and near a growing city. This combines two pieces of stupidity – it removes rich alluvial land built up by aeons of flooding from agricultural production and creates extreme future flood risks.

  17. “Roy says:
    January 12, 2011 at 1:34 am”
    Well, here is Aus we get conflicting MSM content regarding this flood, fairly common as I see it (1840, 1898 *No SUVs then*, 1910, 1954, 1974, 1994 and 2010. But ask a 10 year old if they’d seen it before). A La Nina event is a cooling event. An El Nino event is a warming event. Apparently, the oceans around Aus are warm, ala, El Nino. So, depends where you read and what you hear, it’s BOTH El Nino AND La Nina. Co2 is amazing stuff!!

  18. A global warming case in court would give the sceptics a FANTASTIC chance to argue against alarmists, so they had to prevent this case.
    OT:
    PIPS2 data is showing that we right now have a spectacular recovery of thick ice in the Arctic, a recovery at such a speed that the Arctic seems to demonstrate that it is in no way near a fading away death spiral:
    http://hidethedecline.eu/pages/posts/trends-in-arctic-ice-thickness-and-volume-211.php
    K.R. Frank

  19. SteveE says:
    January 12, 2011 at 2:28 am
    very true! but sadly you have probably now set that ball rolling – watch for a load of (particularly) American lawyers chasing James Watts descendants! One should never give these lawyer types ideas! LOL

  20. This is a civil case. The dismissal wasn’t based on “science”, per say, so, in all liklihood, it will almost certainly have enough “umph” to go to a jury should the parties decide to roll the dice. There are numerous factual issues. Don’t forget a few key points. Just about all science-folks agree warming of some kind has occurred compared to pre-industrial times. Most agree humans have had “some” effect – call it urban heat or whatever you wish. In civil trials, the disputes over if, how much, etc., will be decided by a jury. Remember, climate things are not like deciding the 12th digit of the gravitational constant. The old “rule of 51” prevails meaning if, by a scintilla, one set of evidence outweighs the other then the scintilla wins. Juries can include greenies – imagine that – since you only get so many challenges during selection.
    What will happen, typically, is both sides will present their experts who will mostly confuse the jury who will the toss out the expert opinions and decide the factual issues based on whatever they’re thinking at the time. Example, Hanson testifies then Monckton testifies. Both take three days (or a week) who mostly present “science blather”. It’s akin to that old Larson cartoon of dogs listening to human speech where they hear “blah, blah, blah, Rover, blah, blah, fetch, blah, blah…”.
    This will be a tough case for either to win. It will be enormously expensive for each side. If the greenies win, a deluge of warming suites will follow – even it they agree to a settlement. Even if they lose, the greenies will refine their case and pursue another round. Just way too much money. Think of the Erin Brockovich case – flimsy or non-existent supporting science but still huge win. Emotions can easily prevail – think of all those children testifying how they lost their pet dog (just kidding).
    One thing for sure, if “big oil” fights it for real, it will be years before it gets to the point of scheduling the trial. I’d use the old IBM method where one of their cases lasted over a decade.

  21. I agree completly with the earlier comments about the Brisbane floods (NOTE the plural – floodsssss).

  22. I saw one rather sad man on TV tonight wading throug the longeroom of his room in Brisbane, with the water nearly up to his arm pits.
    He explained that (knowing about the 1974 flood) he bough some land in the floodplain in 1975, believing he had a full 100 years leeway before he needed to start worrying about the next 100 year flooding event.
    He has learnt some more about statistics, risk and probability this week, but at great cost.

  23. In haste – I see that my typing and spelling have excelled themselves.
    i hope the meaning was clear.

  24. Professor Vicky Pope, head of climate change advice at the (British) Met Office is less cautious, “As the average global temperature increases one would expect the moisture content of the atmosphere to rise”

    Has she not actually checked IF that is happening?

    “For every 1C sea surface temperature rise, atmospheric moisture over the oceans increases by 6-8%”

    I guess that the NATURAL variability in the ocean surface temps by more than 1 degree every day means that this extra moisture is also natural then.
    O/T but in a similar vein, I watched the BBC’s Horizon programme about “one degree” last night. (still available on BBC iPlayer)
    In it a comedian who used to study for a Phd in physics a couple of decades ago described how he was bested in an after-dinner argument about global warming. He could not adequately describe to the other dinner guest what one degree is, let alone how one degree average warming over the globe would lead to problems in weather events. This unnerved him as his ego (as a former Phd physics student at Cambridge) could not cope with being unable to explain something so apparently simple and obvious.
    This lead to his televised “journey” to adequately discover what a degree of warmth really is. In the following hour (which I will never get back) he tortuously and slowly discovered that there is no such thing as ‘heat’ but all increases in ‘heat’ were merely the recordable action of an increase in energy and therefore the motion of the molecules of a particular thing, and that we can measure this accurately down to millionths of a degree centigrade. The end of the program came the predictable pro warming bias about a bell-curve of average temperatures increasing by one degree leading to more frequent warming based weather events. More heatwaves etc…
    There was a fair bit about how This comedian is helping the Met Office with regular measurements from the roof of his London home, and how the Met office now has a measuring station at the very top of the BT tower in London so they can measure the difference between surface and higher level temperatures in London.
    Nothing about how the actual measuring of global temperatures is done, or how they have reduced the number of stations globally by a massive amount, or on how they homogenise the data or how the bell curve of average temps can move up and down and that in-spite of constant predictions of warmer winters, we have had three of the sort of winters which should only occur if the bell-curve moved down, instead of up! Nothing about how wrong the Met Office has been in medium and long term projections either. Just loads of brain-closed assumptions of the accuracy of the Met Office.
    It was AGW propaganda, and the most useful thing I learned from it was why this comedian never completed his Phd.
    He never even knew that heat was actually energy. He was clearly too thick for a Phd.

  25. It strikes me that the most significant wording in the post is that the plaintiff had asked a “political question”. It seems that the court’s opinion is that AGW is purely political. That’s interesting.

  26. It’s clear now the danger of linking political ideology to weather — LOL.
    It’s funny, looks like I need some more popcorn, it seems to be getting worse.

  27. One of the previous floods, 1894 I think, left one or two vessels of the Queensland Navy (this was before Federation in Australia) high and dry in the Brisbane Botanic Gardens.
    I would like to hear expert opinion on whether dredging the rivers would reduce the flood levels by providing more cross-sectional area for the flood waters to flow out to sea. Brisbane is immediately adjacent to Moreton Bay, and a graph of flood height versus distance from the ocean would be instructive. And how much will the level in the bay rise due to the lower density of fresh water?

  28. SteveE says:
    January 12, 2011 at 2:28 am
    That real is laughable, why do people in the US want to sue for everything?
    Because we have no other legal, political or socially acceptable options. Bad language, and bloody noses will land you in jail. Ain’t PC fun? 🙁

  29. CVH says:
    “Focussing on CO2 driven “Climate Change” (SORRY! – Climate DISRUPTION!) ”
    Come on CVH, keep up, keep up – it’s climate CHALLENGES now, don’t you know?. Disruption is *so last week. 🙂

  30. Ken Hall says:
    January 12, 2011 at 4:14 am
    “He never even knew that heat was actually energy. He was clearly too thick for a Phd.”
    Well now, I have known a fair number of Phd’s and some of them really do fit the old joke that if a Bs is what comes out of the rear end of a bull, then a Phd is just the same but Piled Higher and Deeper.

  31. Just about all science-folks agree warming of some kind has occurred compared to pre-industrial times. Most agree humans have had “some” effect – call it urban heat or whatever you wish. In civil trials, the disputes over if, how much, etc., will be decided by a jury.
    Blaming an oil company for any signifigant amount of warming is ludicrous, and a lawyer should be able to prove it quite handily. You start by questioning whether fossil fuels raise temperature at all, etc. But you don’t end there.
    The next step is accepting their assertion, solely for the sake of arguement, and then calculating what percentage of the temperature rise between say 1940 and katrina is attributable to this oil company (divide total warming by number of barrells of oil sold in the world. Multiply by the fraction that this company sold compared to the total consumed over the past 70 years.) Once you have that, you split the liability between the supplier and the consumers… say 40% liability for the supplier. You’ll end up with a tiny amount that is likely smaller than the legal fees to mount the case.
    And that’s IF the jury accepts that the sale of oil has caused the destruction.
    On the flip side, you can demonstrate that if this oil company had not provided oil, the financial repercussions that would exist to both katrina victims and all other serviced, etc.
    Really, a jury would have to be insane to find against them. The supreme court is right in not hearing the case. This is a collective issue, not a matter of a bad actor causing harm to an individual or group. We’re all party to this by agreeing that energy is good, so singling out one company rather than sueing your neighbor, the chinese, canadians, the dutch, californians, etc, is ridiculous.

  32. Andrew says:
    January 12, 2011 at 2:56 am
    The current Brisbane floods are about the same level as the 1974 floods. However, both are about 3 metres less that the 1893 and 1840 floods. AGW alarmists never mention inconvient histories.”
    But that was so long ago-it doesn’t count anymore; just like the Little Ice Age and Medieval Warm Period. It just isn’t relevant anymore. What’s relevant is massaged temperature data starting in 1972 and tree rings and maybe ice core data.

  33. Re: the floods in Queensland.
    Replay the AGW record: ‘The earth is only thirty years old and these are the worst floods EVER..’
    Except 1974
    Except 1961
    Except 1924
    Except 1893
    Except 1844
    Except 1841
    …and so on…
    ‘Its summer and the Arctic ice is melting..!!
    Yep – and with monotonous regularity, every winter it freezes again…

  34. @pauld: entirely agreed (no actual effect to be attributed to the Supreme Court deciding not to review) but in the light of (a) the finding in Massachusetts v EPA, (b) the scale of the Defendant’s operations, (c) the remedy sought and (d) the finality of the Mississippi Court’s resulting decision (that plaintiffs don’t have a private remedy) isn’t it, in reality, significant that the Court declined review, even if it has other cases in the pipeline?
    Wasn’t this the case where a number of amicus briefs were filed?

  35. Sue big oil over global warming. Talk about opening Pandora’s box. I almost want to see it happen.

  36. Wait…I’m confused. If the last court to hear it was the three-judge panel that allowed the claims to proceed, and the Supremes won’t hear it, then didn’t the AGW claim prevail?

  37. It may have been better if the court allowed the claims to be presented in court. A good defense team could turn it into a trial of CO2 being falsely accused of being a harmfull pollutant by politically motivated subjective “science”. The legally revealed truth would leave EPA in the position of one of the false accusers and limit their ability to regulate.

  38. Well like a lot of comment sections and forums i frequent it looks like the grammar police have finally arrived at WUWT by the comments i’ve read around here lately.
    Just think of them like kill joys down a pub more concerned with the head on the beer than the taste.
    Just let them stand in the corner alone, ignored, discussing the many flaws in The Simpsons, while the rest of us discuss the topic of judges actually using common sense.

  39. It might be helpful for Vicky Pope to actually look at sea surface temperatures. According to NOMADS, SSTs globally have a positive anomaly of less than 0.1 degree. For Australia, we might be more interested in the South Pacific where the anomaly is almost -0.2 degree.
    (For completeness sake, we should point out that anomaly for the Indian Ocean is +0.35.) Overall, it is very misleading for Vicky Pope to suggest that AGW has caused SST anomalies of +1.0 degree which caused the massive flood in Australia. Of course that is not what she exactly said, but that is the message that the vast majority of readers will get. And, naturally, the MSM will fail to point out how the Australia does get this magnitude of floods periodically. Always amazing to see people surprised that flood plains get flooded.

  40. “Ken Hall says:
    January 12, 2011 at 4:14 am
    …….
    There was a fair bit about how This comedian is helping the Met Office with regular measurements from the roof of his London home,………”
    And the way he was using that ladder every day to get on his roof I can predict he’ll kill himself in 6 months.

  41. SteveE says:
    January 12, 2011 at 2:28 am
    That real is laughable, why do people in the US want to sue for everything?

    Easy: $$$ and a prevailing sense of victimhood, fostered by many decades of propaganda.

    They might as well try and sue James Watt’s descendants for creating the steam engine and it’s part in the industrial revolution!

    Don’t give us any ideas. 😀

  42. TimC says:
    January 12, 2011 at 2:40 am
    …The Supreme Court apparently accepted that the effect of “greenhouse emissions” was a political, not justiciable, issue. This is a really significant decision.

    I think this is the best thing to take away from this. Something the judges could rule on would have to be based on facts. The SC is (IMHO) saying here, “No clear conclusive facts exist on either side in this matter, it is a political issue.” That is truly significant, regardless of what any warmist might say. It would also seem to indicate (IANAL) that any attempt at getting a lawsuit with regards to CAGW to stick will ultimately fail (as the pockets involved on both sides are simply too deep for this not to come back to SCOTUS).

  43. SteveE says:
    January 12, 2011 at 2:28 am

    That real is laughable, why do people in the US want to sue for everything?

    Because we can. The tradeoff is to set up a system in which the people have little or no recourse in the event of some wrongdoing. In fact, we have that exact problem right now in which HMOs cannot be sued for bad decisions regarding medical care. The results are rather tragic. I’m not sure how that has changed with the most recent health care tragedy dubbed Obamacare.
    Mark
    Mark

  44. It is well documented that further damage caused by companies in the Gulf area was a result of climate change caused by the same companies even though the hurricane started elsewhere and was pulled into their costal area by greenhouse gases.
    It seem to me the case is against a big part of the economy of the area. Those filing the case have to be given credit for mentioning greenhouse gasses and climate change to validate the case. The Supreme Court, surprisingly, did their job.
    And they are to be honored for that.

  45. Crap like this is why we need “loser pays” for our legal system. Instead we have the government throwing money at environmental organizations so they can bring up more useless lawsuits.

  46. A fairly accurate legal procedural history of this case, Comer v Murphy Oil, can be found here. This contains links to the judicial decisions at each stage.
    http://www.pointoflaw.com/archives/2011/01/supreme-court-d-1.php
    Excerpt: “U.S. District Court Judge Louis Guirola, Jr., of the Southern District of Mississippi originally dismissed the lawsuit in August 2007, ruling the plaintiffs lacked standing and the tort claims had to be resolved through the political system. The plaintiff’s appealed to the Fifth Circuit, and on Oct. 16, 2009, a three-judge panel ruled two-to-one that the lawsuit had indeed raised justiciable issues that should be heard at trial.
    The Fifth Circuit than agreed to consider the case en banc, but then one more appellate judge recused herself [due to] a conflict of interest, eliminating the necessary quorum to hear the case. Since the three-member panel’s ruling had been vacated, the case was dismissed, and the plaintiffs were forced to pursue the mandamus route [appeal to the Supreme Court] in an attempt to keep the litigation alive.”

  47. I speculate these victims were urged by environmental groups to start this class action in order to set a legal precedent. Given the current state of ignorance and lack of scientific knowledge among the general public, it will only be a matter of time before they start winning these court cases. (It only takes a handful of very crafty lawyers.)
    For anyone interested, here is the opinion from the Mississippi court of appeals explaining why they permitted the case to go to the US Supreme Court: http://www.ca5.uscourts.gov/opinions/pub/07/07-60756-CV0.wpd.pdf
    People should be very concerned about this. Once they establish precedent, they will start using the law to inhibit our energy consumption and this will affect every facet of our lives. They are going to create a world where people cannot afford to heat their homes, where only the rich can enjoy priviledges like travel (including owning a personal car) or imported food (i.e. fruit in winter).

  48. The real sad part is it got that far in the legal system in the first place. It should of been thrown out immediately by a lower court..

  49. Let’s sue NASCAR too when it comes to Mississippi due to all the carbon dioxide that’s given off by high revving engines redlining and smoking tires which are probably made out of oil from Murphy’s.

  50. One must recognize that SCOTUS denies about 95% of the petitions for review (appeals) that are filed. Frequently, the denial is due to the lack of the development of facts and legal issues in the case rather than approval of the lower court’s decisions.
    The Court’s decision may well be a blessing in disguise. Now the Plaintiffs have to prove that anthropogenic global warming exists and is distinguishable and quantifiable separately from natural climate variability; and that AGW results from CO2 emissions whose effects damage legally protected interests of the plaintiffs.
    I doubt that the climate models will be admissible as evidence because their output are speculative and hypothetical. Some expert opinion testimony too may suffer the same fate because it is largely based upon poorly understood aspects of climate science and fraught with speculation.
    I doubt that the claimants can prove the all of the essential elements of their case.

  51. Watched BBC news with video from Brisbane. A smiling chap was drinking beer on his balcony and smiling. Why? He had one of those houses built on 2 metre high stilts and the water had another half metre or so to go before reaching him. Maybe all the houses should have been built like that.

  52. john gault says:
    Sue big oil over global warming. Talk about opening Pandora’s box. I almost want to see it happen
    I’m long past almost. I’m ready to head to the gulch. Let them live with the world they create.
    —————————————————————
    kcrucible says:
    The next step is accepting their assertion, solely for the sake of arguement, and then calculating what percentage of the temperature rise between say 1940 and katrina is attributable to this oil company (divide total warming by number of barrells of oil sold in the world. Multiply by the fraction that this company sold compared to the total consumed over the past 70 years.) Once you have that, you split the liability between the supplier and the consumers… say 40% liability for the supplier. You’ll end up with a tiny amount that is likely smaller than the legal fees to mount the case.
    And that amount is totally irrelevant to any award given in the case. Let’s say that the jury finds them liable for actual damages of $10. Then, they tack on punitive damages in the amount of $10,000,000,000 or more. That’s the way these sort of trials work.
    And that’s IF the jury accepts that the sale of oil has caused the destruction.
    Have you paid any attention to such trials in the past? I would bet a month’s salary on that verdict.
    On the flip side, you can demonstrate that if this oil company had not provided oil, the financial repercussions that would exist to both katrina victims and all other serviced, etc.
    That won’t fly, because everyone will want to “stick it to” the “evil oil company” who just lines their pockets by raising the price of gas whenever they feel like making a few billion dollars more.
    Really, a jury would have to be insane to find against them.
    Agreed. Problem is, so many juries seem to be rather insane when it comes to cases like this.

  53. Roy says:
    January 12, 2011 at 1:34 am
    Professor Neville Nicholls at Monash University and president of the Australian Meteorological and Oceanographic Society is quoted as saying:
    “The extent to which any of this – the floods, warm oceans, or very strong La Niña – is linked to global warming is unknown, because the requisite studies to test this have simply not been done yet.”
    ========================================================
    Perhaps Nicholls should just look at the flood record.
    Current peak height of flood Brisbane River around ~4.5 m (moderated somewhat by the dam constructed since 1974)
    Flood peak in 1974 ~5.5m
    Flood peak in 1893 ~8.5m !
    Global warming in 1893 – virtually none.
    Conclusion: the impact is due to La Nina and nothing to do with CO2 level or “global warming.”

  54. Patrick Davis says:
    January 12, 2011 at 3:49 am
    Co2 is amazing stuff!!

    All forms of fertilizer is amazing stuff, including…..

  55. TimC says:
    January 12, 2011 at 2:11 am
    I don’t think your textual summary quite sets out the true position according to the link given. Would it be better perhaps (corrections in []‘s):
    “A federal district court in Mississippi dismissed the assertions on grounds that they presented a political question that could not be decided by the courts. While a three-judge panel of the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans [initially] reversed the lower court’s ruling in October 2009 and allowed the claims to proceed […that decision was later itself reversed by the same Court of Appeals, allowing the Mississippi Court’s original decision to stand. The Supreme Court has decided that it will not intervene in this particular case.]”

    TimC, thanks for providing this comment. I was a bit panicked until I read it.
    This post really should be corrected because its current wording is 180 degrees off.

  56. @ Tony, and John Gault, I cannot determine which wrote above about the actual damages of $10 and punitive damages of $10,000,000,000 or more.
    The USA’s legal system does not work like that. Since 2003, punitive damages are limited to a small multiple of compensatory damages. The small multiple must be a single digit, that is, from 1 to 9. Higher multipliers are for the most reprehensible actions by defendant.
    That is one reason why Exxon labored so long in the courts over the Exxon Valdez punitive damages appeals.

  57. Roger Sowell
    @ Tony, and John Gault, I cannot determine which wrote above about the actual damages of $10 and punitive damages of $10,000,000,000 or more.
    That was me
    The USA’s legal system does not work like that. Since 2003, punitive damages are limited to a small multiple of compensatory damages. The small multiple must be a single digit, that is, from 1 to 9. Higher multipliers are for the most reprehensible actions by defendant.
    I don’t recall passage of that particular law, so I stand corrected with regard to that. However, I must ask: does this also apply to class-action suits?
    Also, I’m quite sure a jury would find much more than $10 in actual damages.
    (In case you can’t tell, I don’t have a whole lot of faith in a jury to actually understand and deal with facts of this sort. Happy to be proven wrong, however)

  58. Tony,
    The requirement of a single-digit multiplier for punitive damage awards was not a legislative law, but was decided in a US Supreme Court case from 2003, State Farm Mutual Auto. Ins. Co. v. Campbell, 538 U.S. 408.
    The key phrase is :
    “in practice, few awards exceeding a single-digit ratio between punitive and compensatory damages will satisfy due process. (See, e. g., 517 U. S., at 581.) Single-digit multipliers are more likely to comport with due process, while still achieving the State’s deterrence and retribution goals, than are awards with 145-to-1 ratios, as in this case.”
    see http://supreme.justia.com/us/538/408/case.html

  59. Most of the deaths from the Queensland floods have been from people in cars trying to cross flooded roads and bridges and from the extreme flash flooding event in the Toowomba range area where there are still numbers of people mssing. The Gympie flood was less than past floods,no deaths and the Traveston Dam was always a dumb idea- a broad shallow dam covering a lot of farm land and needing relocation of roads with almost no flood mitigation potential. It would have been more sensible to raise the existing dam and dam other headwaters. I am not against dams and ones like the Mitchell River in Victoria would have been better and cheaper than desalination plants. Unfortunately they took the advice of our warmist tainted experts that it was never going to rain again. They don’t reply when I explain to them that the greenhouse gas is still water vapour 93%. We are trying to find the person who prayed for rain! Geoff Broadbent

  60. I believe the Brisbane floods are possibly avoidable, or certainly can be greatly minimised in future years, but only if the yardstick for the erection of flood mitigation dams are kept in place. I understand that this means that the dams should get no more than about 60 % full in the immediate period leading up to a La Nina event, before deliberate release of water downstream.
    Many people believe the flooding signs were in place weeks, if not months ago, in that Australia would experience a strong La Nina event in Queensland over the current summer period. Bob Tisdale seems to know ENSO consequences very well, and I believe that he should be more widely consulted by the Queensland water authorities.
    I have had 70+ years of North Queensland weather experience to draw upon as a knowledge base. The city of Townsville has been hugely successful in flood control
    when one considers that prior to the 1950 period the flood plain that it is largely built upon used to be covered by a metre or more of water during La Nina events in Queensland. Only 150 kms.north of Townsville is the city of Ingham, and it is often flooded badly, as it has been for the past 2 years.
    This could be again controlled by a flood mitigation dam downstream of the Blencoe falls on the Herbert River, but it will not happen as it is now a world heritage area.
    I feel sorry for the Ingham residents every summer period.

  61. @Tony
    And that amount is totally irrelevant to any award given in the case. Let’s say that the jury finds them liable for actual damages of $10. Then, they tack on punitive damages in the amount of $10,000,000,000 or more. That’s the way these sort of trials work.
    Punitive damages are to punish reckless and knowingly anti-social behavior in order to keep them from attempting to do it again, thinking that the punishment is cheap compared to the rewards. Hiding the fact that your car blows up, that your product will cause cancer, etc. Punitive damages won’t be assessed against a company doing everything within their power to obey the law, be a good provider to the community, etc.
    What would punitive damages accomplish? Preventing anyone from ever selling Oil again? That’s a GOOD thing?? No jury would go for that.

  62. Sounds to me like the only reason that SCOTUS refused to hear this case is that they have already taken up a similar global warming/nuisance case from the Northeast. SCOTUS can do that; their jurisdiction here is strictly discretionary. What I worry about is that they will allow a nuisance rationale – a way for the doctrine of nuisance to regulate CO2 by judicial fiat, without regard to the science of CO2 and of climate, and without regard to the simple fact that the common law of America is ill-equipped to deal with this issue – it simply becomes a redistribution-of-wealth scheme. The result will be economic chaos and disaster.

  63. Yep! I admit – I can’t keep up Richie!!
    …………………………….
    RichieP says:
    January 12, 2011 at 5:07 am
    CVH says:
    “Focussing on CO2 driven “Climate Change” (SORRY! – Climate DISRUPTION!) ”
    Come on CVH, keep up, keep up – it’s climate CHALLENGES now, don’t you know?. Disruption is *so last week. 🙂
    ………………………………
    These warmists have more verbal twists and turns than a stick of liquorice
    ;0)

  64. kcrucible says:
    Punitive damages are to punish reckless and knowingly anti-social behavior in order to keep them from attempting to do it again, thinking that the punishment is cheap compared to the rewards. Hiding the fact that your car blows up, that your product will cause cancer, etc. Punitive damages won’t be assessed against a company doing everything within their power to obey the law, be a good provider to the community, etc.
    What would punitive damages accomplish? Preventing anyone from ever selling Oil again? That’s a GOOD thing?? No jury would go for that.

    Well, we’ve discussed the actual precedent regarding the awarding of punitive damages – but you have to question WHY the court had to make such a ruling.
    What you’re talking about is theory. The fact is often quite different. Punitive damages can be assessed often on an emotional rather than a rational basis. The infamous McDonald’s coffee case is an excellent example of this. While the finding of fault in that case is not quite so outrageous as it may seem on the surface, there is little rational support for an award of $3,000,000 in punitive damages. (While the judge reduced that amount in this case, that doesn’t always happen) The jury didn’t make their decision using the rationale you cite – they based it on emotion.
    The general public is so brainwashed with anti-oil, anti-corporation, and AGW propoganda from the MSM, I can easily see things getting quite out of hand in a case like this.

  65. Just for the record, Katrina had nothing to do with the flooding of New Orleans… it was just the slight shake that brought down the house of cards. When the Army Corps of Engineers is declared liable by the courts, you know you are getting a bit closer to the real cause. http://articles.cnn.com/2009-11-18/us/louisiana.katrina.lawsuit_1_lower-ninth-ward-new-orleans-east-ruling?_s=PM:US
    If something is built poorly and then poorly maintained, it should be no surprise that it won’t pass the test.

  66. @Tony
    What you’re talking about is theory. The fact is often quite different. Punitive damages can be assessed often on an emotional rather than a rational basis. The infamous McDonald’s coffee case is an excellent example of this. While the finding of fault in that case is not quite so outrageous as it may seem on the surface, there is little rational support for an award of $3,000,000 in punitive damages. (While the judge reduced that amount in this case, that doesn’t always happen) The jury didn’t make their decision using the rationale you cite – they based it on emotion.

    On the contrary, this is an excellent example of the use of punitive damages. They weren’t trying to “stick it to the man”, the plaintif’s lawyer was asking the jury to hit McDonalds with a judgement that would force them to lower the temperature of the coffee so that it wouldn’t happen again.
    The plaintif’s lawyer basically argued that McDonald’s knew that the coffee was too hot, could cause burns if it spilled, but ignored safety in pursuit of the dollar (because a lot of people buy to take it to work and they want it still hot when they get there.)
    Now, we can argue over whether it’s reasonable, but the idea of the punitive damage is to force a change in behavior on the part of the defendant.

    The general public is so brainwashed with anti-oil, anti-corporation, and AGW propoganda from the MSM, I can easily see things getting quite out of hand in a case like this.

    A good defense lawyer would make it clear what would end up happening if the verdict happened. Rationing at best, refusal to sell more likely. The defense lawyer would ask if anyone on the jury drives. Would they like to be paying $12 per gallon because of the scarcity of gasoline? How would they feel about having their grandmother in New England unable to afford to heat her house in the dead of winter?
    Sure, if they have an incompetant lawyer things could go badly, but the defense can pull at the emotional strings too.

  67. @kcrucible
    We may have to agree to disagree on this one – I just don’t have that much faith in juries. Hopefully, this never becomes an issue, so neither of us will ever have to find out for sure who was right.

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