Climate Litigators are Riding a Dead Horse

Reposted from The Gelbspan Files

City of Charleston v Brabham Oil Company, et al.

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In just the span of barely the first three weeks of September, four lawsuits suing energy companies for the costs of man-caused global warming were filed, City of Hoboken v. ExxonMobil, et al. (9/2/20), City of Charleston v Brabham Oil Company, et al. (9/9/20), Delaware v. BP America Inc, et al. (9/10/20), and Connecticut v. ExxonMobil Corp. (9/14/20). These allege the companies knew their products caused harm from global warming while orchestrating disinformation campaigns with ‘shill’ experts to deceive the public about the harm. Politico summarized these in a September 16 podcast report as part of a “new wave of climate change lawsuits” against fossil fuel companies “racking up nationwide.” While no comparison was offered in that report to the way the tobacco industry began to crumble under the weight of lawsuits against it in the 1990s, a same-day report from E&E News was not the least bit subtle about prompting readers to consider how this “growing body of climate misinformation suits” compares to the tobacco industry’s situation over its knowledge of the harm of cigarette smoking. No mention was made in either report, of course, regarding dubious claims about the allegedly ‘settled science’ of man-caused global warming.

It’s arguably disingenuous for reporters to suggest this is settled science when extensive science-based opposition exists. David Middleton’s September 14 “Charleston SC Junk Climate Lawsuit” WUWT guest post addressed many of the opposition’s viewpoints, including some details concerning a ‘cartoonly absurd’ graph in this Charleston v Brabham Oil filing. In his remarks about the graph’s appearance elsewhere, Middleton basically exposed a sizable problem with reporters disingenuously implying there is a ‘wave of individual state and city-filed lawsuits’ happening:

This cartoon appears on page 62 of this, and nearly every other, junk climate lawsuit .. The exact same image, including the caption is in Delaware’s recent junk lawsuit. The graph is from what is known as the “Black presentation” and supposedly reveals Exxon’s secret knowledge of climate change …

It does indeed appear identically on page 77 in Delaware v. BP, and Middleton isn’t exaggerating about the number of lawsuits referencing that graph and/or material directly stemming from it. While the graph itself does not appear in the four Matt Pawa-led lawsuits, the Black Report is noted in the text of the lawsuits, King County v. BP example here, where the source link goes to Inside Climate News’ (ICN) PDF file containing the James Black quote about “Present thinking holds that man has a time window of five to ten years…” at the bottom of its PDF page 3, and the graph in its PDF page 26.

ICN is the obvious source; many enviro-activists say their “Exxon Knew” series of articles (with a massively repeated Twitter hashtag) is the be-all / end-all source for incriminating documents, where their particular 9/17/15 article was the first with the direct link to their PDF file copy of the Exxon memos which King County uses, along with other global warming lawsuits. For example, the supposedly ‘independently led’ Hoboken v. ExxonMobil lawsuit uses the same “time window of five to ten years” quote, but takes a slightly more circuitous citation path about it by linking to an ICN web page link which itself then links to ICN’s PDF file containing the quote and graph. The days-old ‘also-supposedly-independently-led’ Connecticut v Exxon 9/14/20 filing quotes the same Black Report “time window” sentence, but skips the trouble of including any sort of citation source altogether. The supposedly independently led D.C. v Exxon is also devoid of citation sources, and doesn’t even bother to assign a name to the Black Report’s warning about “double to triple as much warming at the poles,” where their passage about it bears a striking resemblance to a similar passage in the Hoboken filing ……. which cites ICN as the source for it.

The similarities don’t stop there. What other lawsuit looks like that? The ‘also-supposedly-independently-led’ Minnesota v American Petroleum Institute, Exxon, et al. lawsuit does, but with a twist on the citation source which is not Inside Climate News:

Where else is such a similar “mean temperature / poles temperature” passage found in the pile of global warming lawsuits accusing ‘Big Coal & Oil’ of colluding with skeptic climate scientists in disinformation campaigns?

Remember how WUWT post contributor David Middleton noted the ‘cartoonly absurd’ “mean temperature / poles temperature” graph is seen in the Charleston filing and identically in the Delaware filing? Read the text accompanying that graph in Charleston, and in Delawareand in the Honolulu v. Sunoco filing, and what do you see?

There’s that text again, identical to what’s in the sourceless passage in D.C. and naturally identical in these three Sher Edling boilerplate copy lawsuits …. all three of which cite Kert Davies’ ClimateFiles as the source for the text and graph.

It’s a potential point of speculation on whether the taxpaying citizens of Delaware and Charleston might be disappointed that they are blessed with what could be described as a used, hand-me-down lawsuit from a city halfway out into the Pacific Ocean. But the citizens of Honolulu might make the same argument about their own lawsuit filing being a hand-me-down through eight prior generations of essentially identical filings dating all the way back to 2017’s County of San Mateo v. Chevron, with its variant of the Black Report / Kert Davies Climate Files passage, and its repeated-in-every-subsequent-filing-elsewhere implication that a leaked memo set with the strategy goal to “reposition global warming” is evidence to prove the existence of fossil fuel industry disinformation campaigns. I’ve covered the crippling problems with that latter ‘worthless leaked memos’ situation and how they are connected to the time when Kert Davies worked at Ozone Action in every one of my dissections of these Sher Edling lawsuit filings.

Speaking of Kert Davies’ Climate Files website link for Black Report material versus the other filings’ links to Inside Climate News’ PDF file for the same material, there is an odd thing going on within Sher Edgings’ first six filings for San Mateo / Marin Counties / City of Imperial Beach v. Chevron and Santa Cruz City / County / City of Richmond v. Chevron. As seen in the prior paragraph’s screencapture for San Mateo, they all identically link to Kert Davies’ site regarding the Black Report’s “time window” / “warming at the poles” line. But all six filings also feature an attachment cleverly titled “Exhibit A Truth or CO2nsequences,” which is a list of clickable links for a “timeline [that] highlights information … from key industry documents and other sources.” The specific info for the “Exhibit A Black Report” entry is the same wording as the main text in all six filings ……. except the link for it goes to Inside Climate News instead of Kert Davies’ website.

What’s up with that?

Is there something special about Kert Davies’ Black Report scans that are different than ICN’s scans? No, they are identical. Notice the little orange diagonal smudge and four surrounding dots at the top right corner of page 1 in both collections.

If the ICN “Exxon Knew” report series was the – again – be-all, end-all source for old Exxon documents, why would there be any need to create a new ‘Kert Davies middleman source’ between these lawsuits and those document scans? Then there’s the counter opposite question about why these Sher Edling filings, including this latest Charleston one, all link to the ‘middleman source’ of the Union of Concerned Scientists for the scans of the worthless “reposition global warming memos” when they could instead link to Kert Davies’ scan copies from – again – the time when he worked at Ozone Action, where it and Ross Gelbspan ‘obtained’ those memos from a never-disclosed source.

These global warming lawsuit filings are anything but “open and shut cases.” David Middleton and others point out sizable problems regarding what Exxon supposedly knew about the science, while others point out the problems with the operation and personnel behind these lawsuit filings. Myriad questions arise from all of this, which the defendant lawyers or prominent objective reporters might want to explore:

  • was the “September mini-wave” of global warming lawsuit filings less of a ‘wave’ if two of the four are identical, handled by the same law firm?
  • is the overall “wave” of global warming lawsuit filings over the last three years far less of a ‘wave’ if over half of them apparently consist of pick-and-choose boilerplate copy elements from a single template that one law firm is using in its multiple filings, while the rest of the filings seemingly rely on an arguably too-similar-to-be-coincidental basic template? (not mentioned above, both Boulder v Suncor and Massachusetts v Exxon, each devoid of citation sources, vaguely reference what turns out to be obviously the Black Report)
  • is there actually any ‘wave’ of lawsuits at all, when every one of these “Exxon Knew”-style lawsuits are similar enough that they could be consolidated into a single one of John Passacantando, Kert Davies, et al. [dba Greenpeace USA née Ozone Action / Our Next Economy / CIC ] v Exxon, considering how that duo and their apparent associates don’t like Exxon very much, and how they may actually be the central leaders over the last 22 years behind the idea of ‘suing the fossil fuel industry for using counter-propaganda campaigns to deceive the public.’
  • is there a reason why university analysts and supposedly unbiased news reporters are unable to spot myriad faults which potentially fatally weaken these “climate misinformation lawsuits,” which otherwise become obvious after even just a moderately objective examination is undertaken of the finer points of the scientific part or the political part of the lawsuits?
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September 26, 2020 2:22 pm

City of Charleston seem to be claiming ignorance of climate change alarmism , otherwise they would have stopped using fossil fuels.

Do they still use fossil fuels, even after filing this law suit?

It is themselves they should be suing !

It really is time that the oil companies stood up to these weasels and stopped supply while the law suit is open.

Reply to  fred250
September 26, 2020 6:36 pm

If I was a rate payer in the City of Charleston I would immediately launch an action against any council member found to be using fossil fuels.

Henning Nielsen
Reply to  fred250
September 27, 2020 8:31 am

But why should the oil companies do that? They know their product is needed, that hardly anyone will stop using it, that nothing will change. They might even accept a bit of “good guilty feeling” to humour the public, because they will never lose cases like these. The tobacco cases are irrelvevant, no good effect can be said to come from smoking, whereas very many positive effects can be documented to come from using fossile fuels.

Reply to  fred250
October 7, 2020 10:25 am

To my untrained eye, I think there ought to be enough grounds for a class action countersuit – against the suing jurisdictions, the officials spearheading the suits, and the law firms.

The suits set up a no win situation for the oil companies; even if they win, they lose since they still have to pay to defend themselves. But, what do the government’s and lawyers have to lose? Nothing, and that needs to be addressed. Individuals need to have skin in the game – money at risk – for their defamation of productive businesses and for their harassment of those essential services provided.

September 26, 2020 2:26 pm

Heck, nobody “knows” even now that CO2 causes any warming or that atmospheric CO2 is anything but totally beneficial to life on Earth.

Warming by atmospheric CO2 has never been empirically proven.

It exists only in hypothesis and models.

Oil and coal companies ought to be PAID for providing CO2 that allows farmers to farm , and thus people to eat.

Curious George
Reply to  fred250
September 26, 2020 4:43 pm

Are there any documented costs of “climate change”? I mean something that happened 1980 to 2019.

Bill Powers
Reply to  fred250
September 27, 2020 7:04 am

Fred, Hair loss, dental plaque, psoriasis and impotence have all been linked to the particular strain of CO2 caused by us anthropoids. It is even thought that overexposure lmight lead to the particular kind of stupid found in Actors and News anchors. Its going to be detailed in the next edition of Scientific American. Pay attention Fred.

Peter W Watson
September 26, 2020 2:28 pm
September 26, 2020 2:28 pm

Sounds like a job for Captain RICO….

Sweet Old Bob
September 26, 2020 2:33 pm

IMO the reason they cry so much about global warming is closely related to the observation ” The stupid, it burns ”


September 26, 2020 2:47 pm

A definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over but expecting different results. In this case all they are doing is feeding willing attorneys.

Ron Long
September 26, 2020 3:08 pm

Exxon was a publicly-traded stock company when an employee (Black) wrote a memo to another employee. Neither of the employees as mentioned were Officers or Directors of the company. The memo had no policy effect within the company and was not adopted by Officers, nor Directors, nor Shareholders (actual owners of Exxon). To base these frivolous lawsuits on this internal memo is without merit. Any one of us who has been an Officer or Director of a publicly-traded stock company knows full well the difference between normal back-and-forth of memos and other common forms of communication, versus officially adopted corporate policy. There needs to be a series of counter-suits for damages.

Reply to  Ron Long
September 28, 2020 12:44 pm

Playing devil’s advocate here… But, that’s their whole point. Exxon knew, was told about it in official internal documents – but did nothing to alter policy.

A defense would be if other internal documents exist from the same approximate time frame that come to a different conclusion. But I’d be surprised if even Exxon – a litigation target with many decades of experience – has documents going back that far.

Reply to  TomB
September 28, 2020 3:45 pm

OK, I will do this one more time. Climate changes, constantly, humans are not causing it and can not stop it. Which part of this can you not understand? Co2 is plant food, more Co2 is good for the planet because more plants means more oxygen and more food. F**king idiots.

September 26, 2020 3:24 pm

The original headline (in the email) Climate Litigators are Beating Riding a Dead Horse” sort of made sense too. I mean how could you beat riding a dead horse? These ‘climate’ lawsuits against the fossil fuel industry won’t go anywhere legally either, as we all equally benefited from their use and will for a long time to come. All the litigants also made beneficial use of fossil fuels, so their hypocrisy will surely be noted. There is no way any judgement, even if one even got through the 7th Circus, could ever succeed at SCOTUS. Especially now that Judge Amy Coney Barrett will be confirmed to the high court. Hopefully the litigants will have to pay costs for both sides of these frivolous lawsuits when they are dismissed with prejudice.

Reply to  Earthling2
September 26, 2020 5:45 pm

At my GelbspanFiles blog, I title my dissections of each of these AGW lawsuit filings using just the lawsuit’s name, in hopes that when people do their own search for it, one of the results will be my blog post where they may learn things the mainstream media never reports about. In suggesting to Charles the Moderator here at WUWT that he might want to choose a different title for this guest post version, the old saying of “beating a dead horse” would have been fine, but I think his alteration to “Riding a Dead Horse” comically illustrates a ‘miracle of science’ AGWers have accomplished by getting a total of 22 active lawsuits upright and walking in zombie-like fashion which all utilize the SAME basically D.O.A. template about “settled science” and “liars-for-hire working for Big Oil to deceive the public.”

Dennis G Sandberg
September 26, 2020 3:45 pm

Be nice to believe that because big oil, a fortunate couple times, has recently escaped paying damages for something they’re not responsible foretells the future. Past success does not ensure future results. In the modern era the three main things in any heavily political court case are 1) who appointed the judge, 2) who appointed the judge and 3) who appointed the judge. Facts are an interesting aside but do not weigh heavily on the outcome.

Garland Lowe
Reply to  Dennis G Sandberg
September 26, 2020 7:01 pm

“We do not have Obama judges or Trump judges, Bush judges or Clinton judges,” Roberts said in a statement released by the court’s public information office.
Robert’s could be wrong.

Jeff Alberts
Reply to  Garland Lowe
September 26, 2020 8:02 pm

Yeah. Apparently he doesn’t know the judges who call themselves “resistance in a robe”.

Reply to  Garland Lowe
September 27, 2020 3:39 am

Just because he’s a (US) Supreme Court justice doesn’t mean he isn’t wrong.

Walter Sobchak, Esq.
September 26, 2020 4:20 pm

The statute of limitations runs from the time when the plaintiff knew or should of known of the injury and its cause. Seeing as how “Inconvenient Truth” was 14 years ago and it alleged the injury and pointed out its cause (fossil fuels). The statute has been running since then. What ever the oil companies knew or didn’t know in the 1970s, they didn’t stop anyone from going to the movies in 2006. Any suit filed now should be dismissed without a trial.

September 26, 2020 4:22 pm

It strikes me that the burden of proof in these cases should be shifted to whether said memos are even valid or whether they’re actually intentional plants at the time and fraudulent.

That they were “found” at all is highly dubious.

Reply to  Prjindigo
September 26, 2020 5:22 pm

THAT is indeed something I keep an eye out for. Remember the Oregon Petition Project? One of the operators within the little clique of people I term “Greenpeace USA née Ozone Action” planted a single fake name, “Dr Geri Halliwell” (a.k.a. Ginger Spice of the Spice Girls pop music group), in the petition so that Ozone Action could alert all the news outlets that there were multiple fake names in it which therefore rendered the whole petition worthless. That’s the same Ozone Action I mention in my guest post above.

How many instances elsewhere in far-left ‘outrage situations’ do we see them planting ‘evidence’ in order to claim the situations are outrageous?

William Haas
September 26, 2020 4:42 pm

If those cities really believe that the use of fossil fuels is bad then they should immediately stop making use of all goods and services that involves the use of fossil fuels. That includes all goods including building materials and food delivered by truck. Most pipes used in water delivery systems were delivered by truck so they cannot make use of their water systems either. Roadways constructed via the use of fossil fuels cannot be used as well. All buildings made with materials that involved the use of fossil fuels cannot be used as well. Hence they need to evacuate their cities of all human life. It is really the users of fossil fuels that are to blame. It is their money that keeps the fossil fuel companies in business. Their law suits should name all of those who have made use of goods and services that involved the use of fossil fuels. The cities should also sue themselves for having cleared wild vegetation and forests that absorb CO2. Of course there is no real evidence that CO2 has any effect on climate and there is plenty of scientific rationale to support the conclusion that th climate sensitivity of CO2 is zero. It is all a matter of science.

CD in Wisconsin
September 26, 2020 4:46 pm

If these suits against Exxon and others get tossed out, dismissed or whatever, isn’t there a law that allows the defendant to sue the plaintiff for recovery of the costs of the suit? I realize Exxon and other companies probably have their own legal teams to fight these things, but a lawsuit to recover the costs can still be justified, can it not?

September 26, 2020 5:00 pm

Just because”Exxon knew” doesn’t mean it’s Exxon’s fault. At a certain level, everyone ‘knew’ that CO2 was a greenhouse gas. Exxon did not burn the oil, consumers did.

Furthermore, the government has no standing to sue a company for whatever damage may have been caused by consumers of a perfectly legal product.

Robert Austin
September 26, 2020 5:08 pm

Connecticut v. ExxonMobil

My great great great grandfather left Connecticut for New Brunswick in the revolution. Did he foresee this farce? Not really, as we elected Trudeau junior as a minority government messiah. If Trump is not re-elected, God help us!

Christian Bultmann
September 26, 2020 6:15 pm

As Steven Donziger said “Facts do not exist. Facts are created” in the environmentalist propaganda film Crude.

September 26, 2020 6:29 pm

As Steven Donziger said “Facts do not exist. Facts are created” in the environmentalist propaganda film Crude.

Reply to  C.Bultmann
September 27, 2020 1:06 am

Wonderful. Postmodernism in a nutshell. He could be directly quoting Derrida, Lyotard, Barthes etc.

September 26, 2020 7:25 pm

There is no foundation for the lawsuits. It’s the process that is the punishment and using taxpayer dollars in such a way should be illegal.

I suspect that we’re going to see a fundamental transition in jurisprudence in the US over the next few years as the balance of power in the federal judiciary shifts. Amy Coney Barrett will shift the balance of power in the SCOTUS (Roberts is obviously compromised) and if Trump is reelected then he will probably get at least one more SCOTUS appointment (Breyer) and possibly two during his 2nd term.
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Abolition Man
Reply to  rah
September 26, 2020 9:22 pm

Hopefully, during Trump’s second term someone will find the material that is being used to blackmail or coerce CJ Roberts and he can be asked to quietly retire so an ethical person can take his place; maybe a Ted Cruz or another strong Constitutionalist from the list of potential jurists! We cannot afford to allow a compromised Chief Justice to remain in place and affect the FISA Court judges as well as Supreme Court decisions!

Pat from kerbob
September 26, 2020 7:26 pm

It’s obvious that this “wave” is occurring now because it’s an election

The entire purpose is to get it in the news to influence the election, regardless if there is a snowball chance in hell of winning

Pat from kerbob
September 26, 2020 7:35 pm

And I’m not sure why these lawsuits cannot be turned into a public trial of alarmist climate science which is all a hypothesis.
It’s not possible to prove harm but it is impossible to disprove massive benefits in burning fossil fuel

Vincent Causey
September 26, 2020 11:56 pm

Is it no more than a cynical exercise in extracting money from these companies? I mean, how can you on the one hand claim that fossil fuel companies should not sell oil and gas while at the same time being a profligate buyer of said products? Actually it is even more absurd than that, because what these suits appear to be saying, if you look at the consequence, is that only companies that “knew” about this thing should cease trading, but if they didn’t “know”, then it’s kind of okay to sell products. Taken to its logical conclusion, all risk assessment should cease, and businesses should operate from a perspective of ignorance in order to protect themselves from just such frivolous suits as these.

Steve Richards
September 27, 2020 5:06 am

Just as you can not sue someone you believe is overcharging you if you continue to allow them to overcharge you (or use their service). You have to stop using the product/service then sue. It is (at least in the UK) your duty to minimize costs (or running up a big bill knowing the person you sue will have to pay for it).

In this case, the people who sue oil companies claiming harm, MUST, stop using oil based products to minimize harm to themselves and indirectly minimize the final bill.

If they do not stop using oil products, they should automatically lose the case.

My view from the UK.

September 27, 2020 6:12 am

These frivolous nuisance lawsuits are not going to stop until the people filing them are severely punished. Individuals, municipalities, “groups” and their donors, everyone involved. And whilst we are on this, insurance companies paying out for damage caused by Burn Loot Murder and pantifa etc should be going after them. They are well funded, as are all the “celebrities”, “journalists” and “influencers” who have publicly and repeatedly incited these criminal acts, drag them all before judges and drop a f**king hammer on their collectivist a$$es.

September 28, 2020 4:26 am

Yes, well. Some governments are finding themselves in deep sh*it due to climate crisis propaganda. As they have allowed the climate lies rule unchecked now they are losing their cases at courts.
In landmark climate case, Dutch court orders government action on emissions
The government will now be forced to cut emissions by at least 25 percent by the end of 2020 from benchmark 1990 levels.
The Supreme Court upheld lower courts’ rulings that protection from the potentially devastating effects of climate change was a human right and that the government has a duty to protect its citizens.”

Careful what you ask for. Providence intervened and COVID has made sure Dutch 2020 emissions are lower than 75 % 1990 emissions.

September 28, 2020 10:05 am

Well done Russell…

Reply to  David Middleton
September 30, 2020 5:54 pm

Glad to be able to use what you found in the lawsuits to demonstrate just how eerily similar they all are and/or how there might be just one template that this litigator mob is following.

September 28, 2020 10:13 am

I love this one:

There was no global warming in 1977:

All of the ostensibly anthropogenic warming has occurred since 1978, to the extent that any has occurred. Just imagine the lawsuit if Exxon and all of the other purveyors of fossil fuels had stopped producing and selling fossil fuels back when they first learned “that unrestricted production and use of fossil fuel products create greenhouse gas pollution that warms the planet and changes our climate,” and this actually occurred:

September 28, 2020 11:13 pm

It seems reasonable to me that if cities could file suit against Exxon for selling products known to contribute to climate change then citizens could sue the cities for using these products when the cities know they contribute to climate change. After all, it’s only fair.

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