New York sues Exxon over climate change disclosures; Move called 'waste of taxpayer dollars' by legal reform group

By John O'Brien | Oct 24, 2018


NEW YORK (Legal Newsline) – Years in the making, the New York Attorney General’s Office on Wednesday sued ExxonMobil, alleging the company misled investors regarding climate change.

The lawsuit comes as New York City fights the dismissal of its own global warming-related lawsuit, one that claims Exxon and other companies in the oil industry caused climate change. A federal judge earlier this year rejected those claims, as did another judge handling the cases of San Francisco and Oakland.

Attorney General Barbara Underwood’s lawsuit is the result of a probe begun long ago by former AG Eric Schneiderman, who has since resigned because of an assault scandal.

That probe, it is alleged, was a major step in a coordinated attack on the oil industry by private lawyers, government officials and environmental advocates.

“Exxon built a facade to deceive investors into believing that the company was managing the risks of climate change regulation to its business when, in fact, it was intentionally and systematically underestimating or ignoring them, contrary to its public representations,” Underwood said.

However, the state’s civil justice reform group disagreed with the decision to sue, noting recent reports that say former NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg has been sending activists to state attorney general offices for this exact purpose.

“With today’s lawsuit against ExxonMobil, Attorney General Underwood continues the pattern of headline hunting and abuse of New York’s far-reaching Martin Act pioneered by her predecessors – disgraced former attorneys general Eliot Spitzer and Eric Schneiderman,” said Tom Stebbins, executive director of Lawsuit Reform Alliance of New York.

“Today’s action is a waste of taxpayer dollars, scarce court resources, and a continued abuse of the Office of the New York Attorney General.”

Underwood filed the case in New York County Supreme Court.

One of Exxon’s main arguments as it defends itself against climate change lawsuits also relates to disclosures made to investors.

The company filed papers in a Texas state court complaining that the counties and cities in California that have sued it were hypocrites.

Exxon said the lawsuits allege near-certain doom caused by climate change, but bond offerings to potential investors in those places never disclosed that city and county property would be harmed by climate change.

A Texas judge agreed with that contention earlier this year.


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Exxon Mobil Lawsuit Reform Alliance of New York New York Attorney General

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