Denver environmental and personal injury lawyer files Boulder's climate change lawsuit against energy companies

By John O'Brien | Apr 19, 2018

BOULDER, Colo. (Legal Newsline) – Two environmental groups and a Denver personal injury lawyer are outside counsel for the latest lawsuit filed by public officials against the energy sector over alleged past and future effects of global warming.

It was known for months that the Colorado city of Boulder was planning to join a group of California cities and counties by suing large energy companies like Exxon, but it was not known which firms were pushing the case.

On April 17, the City of Boulder, County of Boulder and San Miguel County filed their lawsuit, signed by Kevin Hannon of The Hannon Law Firm in Denver.

The suit seeks “(d)amages to compensate Plaintiffs for past and reasonably certain future damages.” Those alleged damages include: A decreased value in water rights; decreased value in agricultural holdings and real property; increased administrative costs; monitoring costs; and costs of past mitigation efforts.


Boulder was tight-lipped in the months leading up to the suit, saying only that the City Council had approved a plan to hire a Washington, D.C. firm on a pro bono basis.

The only defendants named in Boulder’s lawsuit are Exxon and Suncor Energy. The California cases take on other companies like Chevron and BP.

Jonathan Koehn, the regional sustainability coordinator for Boulder under Mayor Suzanne Jones, previously told Legal Newsline that the city is suing these companies because they allegedly have a history of emitting greenhouse gases across the state.

“Boulder has long had standing to address climate change at the local level,” Koehn said.

“We realized we needed to have a more effective tool. And one of the things that has drove this kind of thinking over the past five years are the more catastrophic situations we’ve experienced.

“We’ve been working with this law firm for a while, and they’ve met our demand of partnering with a Colorado firm before the proceedings commence."

That Colorado firm, led by Kevin S. Hannon, isn’t only active in environmental matters.

Among his latest efforts are:

-Class action lawsuits in California against Facebook and Chipotle in Colorado over data security issues;

-New Jersey lawsuits against Johnson & Johnson over its talcum powder products that plaintiffs nationwide are alleging caused ovarian cancer and mesothelioma;

-A class action that seeks the costs of a medical monitoring program from 3M over the fire suppressant AFFF, which allegedly contaminated the environment; and

-Class action litigation in North Carolina against DuPont over C3 Dimer Acid allegedly discharged at the company’s Fayetteville plant into the Cape Fear River.

“Plaintiffs’… complaint rests on a mistaken premise: the premise that any discharge of chemicals into the environment creates tort liability,” DuPont wrote in its defense.

“To be actionable, however, a discharge of chemicals must cause the plaintiff to suffer actual harm.”

His climate change lawsuit alleges Boulder city and county and San Miguel County have already suffered harm to the value of their property.

“Colorado is experiencing and is extremely vulnerable to the impacts of climate change, including increases in extreme hot summer days and minimum nighttime temperatures, precipitation changes, larger and more frequent wildfires, increased concentrations of ground-level ozone, higher transmission of viruses and disease from insects, altered stream-flows, bark beetle outbreaks, ecosystem damage, forest die-off, reduced snowpack and drought,” the complaint says.

Hannon is joined by EarthRights International and the Niskanen Center. Legal Newsline has requested a copy of the contract between the firms and the City of Boulder.

In the California lawsuits, a federal judge recently instructed the plaintiffs to amend their lawsuits following the realization that a memo they cited was mostly inconsequential to their claims.

Also, the California cities and counties face possible consequences for alleging near-certain, climate change-caused doom in their lawsuits while not disclosing those fears to possible investors in bond offerings.

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Organizations in this Story

British Petroleum Chevron U.S.A. Chipotle City of Boulder DuPont Exxon Mobil Facebook Johnson & Johnson The Hannon Law Firm, LLC

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