Massachusetts’ lawsuit to hold ExxonMobil accountable for lying to the public about its role in causing climate change will go forward, the commonwealth’s Supreme Judicial Court ruled Tuesday, rejecting Exxon’s motion to dismiss the case. The suit, brought in 2019, alleges Exxon’s effort to deceive consumers was “reminiscent of the tobacco industry’s long denial campaign about the dangerous effects of cigarettes” as it engaged in a “sophisticated, multi-million dollar campaign” to obfuscate and downplay how its fossil fuels cause climate change, which Exxon scientists knew as early as the 1970s.
The Massachusetts lawsuit has progressed the farthest of the dozens of similar actions brought by states and municipalities across the country. On Monday, a federal appeals court ruled in Rhode Island’s favor to allow its suit against ExxonMobil and others to move forward in state courts. “Four circuit courts in a row have now handed major defeats to big oil companies in these cases,” Center for Climate Integrity President Richard Wiles told the Guardian, “rejecting the industry’s efforts to escape accountability.” (Boston Globe $, AP, The Guardian, Reuters, Politico Pro $; Rhode Island: Reuters, Law 360 $, Bloomberg Law $)