Major U.S. law firms “have been sending client alerts to energy companies warning that a storm is brewing,” Big Law Business reports, citing an uptick in legal challenges based on fossils’ failure to disclose the climate impacts of fossil fuel production.
The cases are beginning to draw comparisons to the $200-billion settlement that 46 state attorneys general reached with big tobacco companies in 1998, ending years of litigation over the companies’ efforts to mislead smokers about the health risks of their products.
(Sorry, folks, but I have to say this: Mrs. Brasloff, this one’s for you.)
“There is escalating effort to bring pressure to bear on companies with respect to their public securities statements on the effects of climate change,” wrote attorneys at the New York-based law firm of Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman, cited in an investigative report by the Houston Chronicle. Among other legal developments, the letter pointed to a federal judge’s decision last April allowing Our Children’s Trust to “proceed with a case against the U.S. government, arguing future generations are at risk as long as burning fossil fuels is permitted.”
“If you look at the history of tobacco litigation through the first several decades, the result was always the same. The plaintiff always lost,” said Carroll Muffett, president of the Center for International Environmental Law. But “with each new case, more information came to public light. And that’s what we’re seeing here.” (h/t to Our Children’s Trust for pointing us to this story)