News & Events

Global Warming Litigation

Mississippi – Members of Butler Snow’s Commercial Litigation Group have been representing ConocoPhillips Company in a significant global warming lawsuit in federal court. Private plaintiffs whose property was damaged by Hurricane Katrina sought money damages from oil and energy companies on the theory that the defendants’ greenhouse gas emissions caused or strengthened the storm, and therefore damaged the plaintiffs. The district court dismissed the suit, determining that under the political question doctrine, issues concerning the level of greenhouse gas emissions should not be determined by the courts, but rather by the executive and legislative branches of government. The court also found that the plaintiffs lacked Article III standing to assert these claims. Plaintiffs appealed the dismissal to the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals, and in an unusual turn of events, an en banc panel of the Fifth Circuit dismissed the appeal. The Butler Snow team was led by Kenneth W. Barton and Benjamin M. Watson.