A panel of appellate court judges heard arguments on Tuesday in Baltimore’s lawsuit against BP, Chevron, Exxon, Shell, and other Big Oil firms who failed to warn consumers about the dangers of their product and instead undertook a disinformation campaign to deceive the public about climate change being caused by fossil fuels. According to court watchers, the judges appeared skeptical of the oil companies’ argument that the case belongs in federal court, where they believe they’ll receive more favorable treatment; a “circular argument” that “defies logic” Judge Stephanie Thacker said.
Industry lawyers also argued firms being held liable for damages from sea level rise would mean an end to offshore oil drilling, which Loyola University law professor Karen Sokol called “a scare tactic.” The lawyers are “telling the courts to back off, we’re a very powerful industry and we’re essential right now to energy security. If you step into this, you’re going to screw everything up,” she told The Guardian. The oil industry “will continue to fight this thing out in the procedural stage till hell freezes over,” Sokol added, “before it allows [the litigation] to get to discovery, much less a trial, because it knows the civil discovery system of state courts is so powerful that it would be forced to disgorge documents that would shed light on the extent of this disinformation campaign even beyond what we already know.” (The Guardian, NPR, Bloomberg Law, Politico Pro $)