Kivalina v. ExxonMobil - Litigation Salvation

Kivalina v. ExxonMobil

Very Little News Coverage Expected

Mass media, think tanks, PR firms could be un-named codefendants in a conspiracy to suppress global warming news and science. So it is possible that mainstream news coverage of this story would be lacking.

It started in Alaska. The small Native Village of Kivalina, damaged by rising waters storm surges - decided to sue 24 energy companies.  Their suit is starting to get plenty of attention. DemocracyNow interviews the plaintiff Attorney Stephen Susman. The case is now before the Federal Courts - the oil companies call this the “The Most Dangerous Litigation in America”

The Kivalina suit asks for $400 million in monetary damages.  Kivalina lawyers are filing a public nuisance action for “defendant’s contributions to global warming through emissions of large quantities of greenhouse gases”

Perhaps just as important, the Kivalina suit charges fossil fuel companies with civil conspiracy “intended to suppress the knowledge of the link between greenhouse gas emissions and global warming, thereby furthering the defendants’ abilities to contribute to global warming.”  And they are asking for damages from un-named co-conspirators - that could be PR agencies, think-tanks or media outlets  —  any media with a big coal/oil relationship -  possibly even those who made and delivered advertising.

One legal analysis from an Oil Industry viewpoint summarizes the potential business exposure of this case:
“Every industry trade group, business association, and public policy organization that expresses any opinion, cites any scientific evidence, or dares to question the assumptions of the Al Gore-driven global warming model is part of the conspiracy.  As such, the company-defendants and the organizations are potentially liable.   Legally liable.  Subject to damage awards. Subject to court-ordered cease-and-desist orders. Subject to court-enforced silence.” - from

However this case resolves, it will set a huge precedent.   If sustained, then more cases will be filed leading to substantially halted CO2 output, or if not, then it will be no constraining CO2 output and the heat is on full blast.  Kivalina is just one of many new court cases addressing global warming directly.

Some climate science blogs are discussing denialism and the curious phenomenon of coordinated strident attacks and denial of global warming science.   The Kivalina suit may legally force the revelation that global warming denial is just a well-funded business tactic. And like the conspiracy to delay tobacco legislation, the energy industry conspiracy against science has been similarly effective.

By comparison, if we look to England, Mexico, Canada, Australia, even Japan - all are way ahead of the US in the public discussion and scientific acceptance of climate change. The Kivalina suit may air the dirty secret: cultivating ignorance is just business. Energy companies were working to avoid any constraints to their business. Something they can do, unless the courts rule it a public nuissance.

Taken from the Kivalina v. ExxonMobil filing

Kivalina v. ExxonMobil filed complaint

The Conspiracy Defendants have engaged in agreements to participate in the intentional creation, contribution to and/or maintenance of a public nuisance, global warming. The Conspiracy Defendants participated and/or continue to participate in an agreement with each other to mislead the public with respect to the science of global warming and to delay public awareness of the issue so that they could continue contributing to, maintaining and/or creating the nuisance without demands from the public that they change their behavior as a condition of further buying their products. At all times the Conspiracy Defendants were concerned that the public would become concerned by global warming and that the growing concern would force a change in the Conspiracy Defendants behavior which would be costly. Delaying these costs was the major objective of the conspiracies described herein.

270. The Conspiracy Defendants have committed overt acts in furtherance of their agreements. The Conspiracy Defendants have participated in an agreement with each other to mislead the public with respect to the science of global warming, either individually or through their various industry fronts or trade associations, and have included overt acts that furthered their intentional creation, contribution to and/or maintenance of a public nuisance, global warming…

Plaintiffs request that this Court:
1. Hold each defendant jointly and severally liable for creating, contributing to, and maintaining a public nuisance;
2. Hold the Conspiracy Defendants jointly and severally liable for civil conspiracy;
3. Hold each defendant jointly and severally liable for concert of action;
4. Award monetary damages on the basis of joint and several liability according to proof;
5. Enter a declaratory judgment for such future monetary expenses and damages as may be incurred by Plaintiffs in connection with the nuisance of global warming;
6. Award attorneys fees;
7. Award costs and expenses; and
8. Award such other relief as this Court deems just and proper.


Some links for more information:

Marten article on Kivalina

Kivalina v. ExxonMobil suit as filed

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