Bloomberg Law
Free Newsletter Sign Up
Bloomberg Law
Welcome
Go
Free Newsletter Sign Up

Exxon Must Face Massachusetts Suit Claiming Climate Deception

May 24, 2022, 5:52 PM

The top appeals court of Massachusetts ruled that Exxon Mobil Corp. must face a lawsuit by the state accusing it of misleading investors and consumers about the impact of climate change on its business and products.

  • Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court issued ruling Tuesday, affirming Superior Court’s decision that suit can go forward
  • Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey filed suit in 2019, alleging energy company hid early knowledge of climate change
  • Healey claimed Exxon deceived investors in state about projected financial impact of global warming on its business and duped consumers with marketing that suggested some of its gasoline and motor oil products were good for the environment
  • Exxon unsuccessfully sought to have suit dismissed, arguing it violated state’s anti-SLAPP law prohibiting litigation that punishes a defendant for statements on public policy matters; judge found it was too soon to say if company’s statements about climate change amounted to protected speech
  • Anti-SLAPP laws are so named because they seek to bar or curb Strategic Litigation Against Public Participation
  • Read More: Exxon Bid to Halt Massachusetts Climate Case Denied by Judge
  • State’s highest court on Tuesday affirmed lower court’s ruling on grounds that the law doesn’t apply to civil enforcement actions by the attorney general
  • “Once again, Exxon’s attacks on my office and our case have been rejected by the courts,” Healey said in a statement. “Today’s ruling is a resounding victory in our work to stop Exxon from lying to investors and consumers in our state.”
  • Exxon spokesperson Casey Norton said company “is reviewing the decision and evaluating next steps.”
  • Exxon had also pressed claims that Healey, a Democrat and longtime advocate for tackling climate change, was motivated by politics in her investigation
  • Lawsuit is one of many targeting Exxon and other energy companies over public statements about climate change over the years but has advanced further than most
  • Read More: Exxon’s Climate Trial Ends With Whimper as NY Won’t Appeal
  • Case is Commonwealth v. Exxon Mobil Corp., SJC-13211, Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court.

(Adds comment from Exxon spokesperson near bottom.)

To contact the reporter on this story:
Erik Larson in New York at elarson4@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story:
Katia Porzecanski at kporzecansk1@bloomberg.net

Peter Jeffrey

© 2022 Bloomberg L.P. All rights reserved. Used with permission.