Kivalina lawsuit (re global warming)

Aerial view of Kivalina, Alaska, USA, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Digital Visual Library,[http://images.usace.army.mil/images/Hires/cepoa171.jpg Pour la version française de ce profil, cliquez ici.

Para la versión en español, haga clic acá.

On 26 February 2008 Kivalina, a Native Alaskan village of approximately 390 Inupiat residents, launched a federal lawsuit in California aimed at oil, coal and power companies.  The plaintiffs argue that the defendants’ contribution to global warming through their emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gasses substantially and unreasonably interferes with the plaintiffs’ rights to use and enjoy public and private property in Kivalina.  The village seeks to recover monetary damages, up to $400 million, for the cost of relocating the entire village as a result of what they describe as "defendants’ past and ongoing contributions to global warming".  Kivalina also alleges that certain defendants conspired to suppress public awareness of the link between greenhouse gas emissions and global warming, thereby further contributing to the community’s injuries. 

On 30 June 2008 BP, Chevron, ConocoPhillips, ExxonMobil, Peabody Energy and Shell filed motions to dismiss the case on several grounds.  First, these defendants claimed that the court lacks jurisdiction to hear the case because the claim raises nonjusticiable political questions (more information on the political question doctrine here).  Second, they argued that the plaintiffs did not have standing to bring the case because they cannot establish the causal link between the injuries complained of and the defendants’ acts.  Third, these defendants argued that the plaintiffs failed to state a claim recognised under law.  Finally, they argued that the plaintiffs’ conspiracy claim runs contrary to the US Constitution’s First Amendment protections of free expression.

Responding to the motion to dismiss, plaintiffs argued that their claim is that of simple public nuisance. In response to the political question argument, Kivalina underlined that it only asks the Court to resolve a dispute between the parties and award monetary damages if appropriate. Plaintiffs also pleaded that their conspiracy claim does not run contrary to the First Amendment because the latter does not protect deliberately false statements or deceptive conduct. Finally, plaintiffs argued that they have standing to bring the case as there is no requirement for them to specify which particular emission and at what point in time caused the community’s injury.

In addition to the companies referred to above, defendants in this case include: AES, American Electric Power, DTE Energy, Duke Energy, Dynegy, Edison Intl., MidAmerican Energy, Mirant, NRG Energy, Pinnacle West, Reliant Energy, Southern Company and Xcel Energy.  On 30 September 2009, the US District Court for the Northern District of California granted the defendants’ motion to dismiss, agreeing with the defendants’ arguments that the case raises nonjusticiable political questions and that the plaintiffs lack standing to bring the case.  In November 2009, Kivalina Village appealed this dismissal to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.  In September 2012 the appeals court rejected Kivalina's appeal, affirming the lower court's dismissal of the case.   In October 2012, Kivalina asked the appeals court to rehear the case en banc (before the full panel of appeals court judges), but the court refused to rehear the case.  The plaintiffs filed an appeal with the Supreme Court in February 2013, but the court declined to hear the appeal.

- "Alaskan village takes global warming case to U.S. SC", Jessica Karmasek, Legal Newsline [USA], 8 May 2013
- "Alaskan village wants rehearing of Ninth Circuit's global warming decision", John O'Brien, Legal Newsline [USA], 9 Oct 2012
- "Alaskan village loses appeal in global warming case against oil giants", Leigh Jones, National Law Journal, 24 Sep 2012
- [video] "Appeals court hears argument by village seeking damages from U.S. industry for global warming", Dermot Cole, Fairbanks Daily News-Miner [USA], 29 Nov 2011
- “Kivalina global warming litigation dismissed on political question grounds”, Gil Keteltas, Global Climate Law Blog, 16 Oct 2009
- “ The Arctic fight for survival ”, Jacqueline Head, Al Jazeera, 27 May 2009
- [PDF] “Climate Change Litigation: Familiar Theories of Recovery”, Jonathan B. Shoebotham, Toxic Torts Verdict Reports, Sep 2008
- “Flooded Village Files Suit, Citing Corporate Link to Climate Change”, Felicity Barringer, New York Times, 27 Feb 2008

- Hagens Berman Sobel Shapiro LLP (plaintiffs’ lawyers): “Kivalina - Global Warming”, 2 Oct 2008 [press release]
- Southeastern Legal Foundation & American Justice Partnership: [PDF] “The Most Dangerous Litigation in America: Free Speech Under Attack 'Kivalina'”, 10 Apr 2008
- Dustin Till, Marten Law Group: “Threatened by Rising Seas, Native Village Seeks Lifeline in Federal District Court ”26 Mar 2008 [legal analysis]
- Heather Kendall-Miller, Native American Rights Fund: “Global Warming Project

- Al Jazeera: [VIDEO] “People & Power - Alaska: A case of global proportions”, 27 May 2009.

Link to defendants’ websites regarding climate change:
- AES: “Alternative Energy
- American Electric Power: “Our view on Coal and Climate Change” 
- BP: “Climate change: Our position” 
- Chevron: “Climate Change” 
- ConocoPhillips: “Climate Change position” 
- DTE Energy: “Climate Change
- Duke Energy: “Global Climate Change: Duke’s Energy Position
- ExxonMobil: “Climate Change” 
- Shell: “Responding to Climate Change” 
- Xcel Energy: [PDF] “Climate Policy & Carbon Reductions ”

Native Village of Kivalina v ExxonMobil, et al., US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit
- [PDF] Plaintiffs-Appellants' Petition for Rehearing En Banc, 4 Oct 2012
- [PDF] Opinion of Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, 21 Sep 2012

Native Village of Kivalina v ExxonMobil, et al., US District Court, Northern District of California
- [PDF] Complaint For Damages and Demand for Jury Trial, 26 Feb 2008
- [PDF] Motion of Certain Oil Company Defendants to Dismiss Plaintiffs' Complaint, 30 Jun 2008
- [PDF] Motion of Certain Oil Company Defendants to Dismiss Plaintiffs' Complaint, 30 Jun 2008
- [PDF] Utility Defendants’ Motion to Dismiss , 30 Jun 2008
- [PDF] Motion to Dismiss of Peabody Energy, 30 Jun 2008
- [PDF] Plaintiffs' Legal Brief Opposing the Motion to Dismiss, 8 Oct 2008
- [PDF] Reply Memorandum in Support of Certain Oil Company Defendants to Dismiss Plaintiffs’ Complaint, 18 Nov 2008
- [PDF] Amended Re-notice of motion and motion of Certain Oil Company Defendants to Dismiss Plaintiffs’ Complaint, 3 Mar 2009
- [PDF] Order Granting Defendants’ Motion to Dismiss for Lack of Subject Matter Jurisdiction, 30 Sep 2009

Get RSS feed of these results

All components of this story

Article
6 February 2010

Eroding Alaska village appeals lawsuit’s dismissal

Author: Rachel D'Oro, Associated Press

One of Alaska’s most eroded villages wants to revive a lawsuit that claims greenhouse gasses from oil, power and coal companies are to blame for the climate change endangering the tiny community. The city of Kivalina and…the Alaska Native village of Kivalina filed the case in federal court in…2008, but it was dismissed in October. Now they’re appealing…, with their opening brief due March 11. Oil giants Exxon Mobil Corp. and BP PLC are among two dozen defendants named in the lawsuit. Representatives for the two companies declined to comment Jan. 28…Kivalina’s attorney…said the plaintiffs want monetary damages to help with the estimated $400 million cost to relocate the northwest Alaska village.

Read the full post here

Article
26 January 2010

Courts as Battlefields in Climate Fights [USA]

Author: John Schwartz, New York Times

Tiny Kivalina, Alaska,...has a very big lawsuit that might affect the way the nation deals with climate change... [It] is accusing two dozen fuel and utility companies of helping to cause the climate change that it says is accelerating the island’s erosion... The village wants the companies, including ExxonMobil, Shell Oil, and many others, to pay the costs of relocating to the mainland, which could amount to as much as $400 million. The case is one of three major lawsuits...around the nation against big producers of heat-trapping gases. And...the cases are gathering steam. In recent months, two federal appeals courts reversed decisions by federal district courts to dismiss climate-change lawsuits, allowing the cases to go forward... And although a federal judge...dismissed the Kivalina suit in October, the village is appealing the decision... Kivalina alleged in its complaint that the industry conspired “to suppress the awareness of the link” between emissions and climate change... If the climate-change cases even get to the discovery stage, and if the energy industry possesses embarrassing e-mail messages and memorandums..., [James Tierney, director of National State Attorneys General programme at Columbia Law School] said, “it’s a hammer” that could drive industries to the negotiating table. [also refers to American Electric Power]

Read the full post here

Article
29 November 2009

[PDF] Native Village of Kivalina v. ExxonMobil Corporation, et al. - Order granting Defendants' motion to dismiss for lack of subject matter jurisdiction

Author: United States District Court for the Northern District of California

[Full text of court's order granting the defendants' motion to dismiss the lawsuit for lack of subject matter jurisdiction.]

Read the full post here

Article
11 November 2009

Kivalina Appealed to the Ninth Circuit [USA]

Author: Warming Law blog

Plaintiffs in Native Village of Kivalina v. Exxon Corp, one of several tort-based lawsuits filed against major energy companies seeking damages related to climate change, are appealing a district court’s dismissal of their lawsuit to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit . In Kivalina, a small, primarily-Eskimo village situated on a barrier reef that is disappearing from Alaska’s northwest coast — allegedly due to rising water levels — is seeking damages from 19 of the country’s biggest oil companies for their alleged contribution to global warming... two similar “nuisance” cases, both of which were also dismissed on standing and political question grounds at the district court level, were reinstated on appeal...

Read the full post here

Article
16 October 2009

Kivalina global warming litigation dismissed on political question grounds

Author: Gil Keteltas, Global Climate Law Blog

In a carefully watched case in the Northern District of California, Judge Saundra Brown Armstrong has issued a ruling dismissing the Kivalina climate change lawsuit on grounds that: (1) it raises a non-justiciable political question, and (2) plaintiffs lack Article III standing…In the Kivalina case, the Native Village of Kivalina, Alaska filed suit against two dozen energy companies, attempting to recover at least $400 million in damages for public nuisance related to emissions of greenhouse gases that Plaintiffs alleged contributed to global warming and caused the sea level to rise, destroying parts of the village.

Read the full post here

Article
27 February 2008

Flooded Village Files Suit, Citing Corporate Link to Climate Change [USA]

Author: Felicity Barringer, New York Times

Lawyers for the Alaska Native coastal village of Kivalina, which is being forced to relocate because of flooding caused by the changing Arctic climate, filed suit in federal court here Tuesday arguing that 5 oil companies, 14 electric utilities and the country’s largest coal company were responsible for the village’s woes. The suit is the latest effort to hold companies like BP America, Chevron, Peabody Energy, Duke Energy and the Southern Company responsible for the impact of global warming because they emit millions of tons of greenhouse gases…It accused the companies of creating a public nuisance. In an unusual move, those five companies and three other defendants — the Exxon Mobil Corporation, American Electric Power and the Conoco Phillips Company — are also accused of conspiracy…[S]pokesmen for three defendants [Southern, Peabody, Exxon Mobil]…said they would not comment on the substance of the lawsuit…

Read the full post here

Lawsuit
22 October 2002

Kivalina lawsuit (re global warming)

Author: Business & Human Rights Resource Centre

On 26 February 2008 Kivalina, a Native Alaskan village of approximately 390 Inupiat residents, launched a federal lawsuit in California aimed at oil, coal and power companies.  The plaintiffs argue that the defendants’ contribution to global warming through their emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gasses substantially and unreasonably interferes with the plaintiffs’ rights to use and enjoy public and private property in Kivalina.  The village seeks to recover monetary damages, up to $400 million, for the cost of relocating the entire village as a result of what they describe as ‘defendants’ past and ongoing contributions to global warming’.  Kivalina also alleges that certain defendants conspired to suppress public awareness of the link between greenhouse gas emissions and global warming, thereby further contributing to the community’s injuries. 

On 30 June 2008 BP, Chevron, ConocoPhillips, ExxonMobil, Peabody Energy and Shell filed motions to dismiss the case on several grounds.  First, these defendants claimed that the court lacks jurisdiction to hear the case because the claim raises nonjusticiable political questions (more information on the political question doctrine here).  Second, they argued that the plaintiffs did not have standing to bring the case because they cannot establish the causal link between the injuries complained of and the defendants’ acts.  Third, these defendants argued that the plaintiffs failed to state a claim recognised under law.  Finally, they argued that the plaintiffs’ conspiracy claim runs contrary to the US Constitution’s First Amendment protections of free expression.

Responding to the motion to dismiss, plaintiffs argued that their claim is that of simple public nuisance. In response to the political question argument, Kivalina underlined that it only asks the Court to resolve a dispute between the parties and award monetary damages if appropriate. Plaintiffs also pleaded that their conspiracy claim does not run contrary to the First Amendment because the latter does not protect deliberately false statements or deceptive conduct. Finally, plaintiffs argued that they have standing to bring the case as there is no requirement for them to specify which particular emission and at what point in time caused the community’s injury.

In addition to the companies referred to above, defendants in this case include: AES, American Electric Power, DTE Energy, Duke Energy, Dynegy, Edison Intl., MidAmerican Energy, Mirant, NRG Energy, Pinnacle West, Reliant Energy, Southern Company and Xcel Energy.  On 30 September 2009, the US District Court for the Northern District of California granted the defendants’ motion to dismiss, agreeing with the defendants’ arguments that the case raises nonjusticiable political questions and that the plaintiffs lack standing to bring the case.  In November 2009, Kivalina Village appealed this dismissal to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.  In September 2012 the appeals court rejected Kivalina's appeal, affirming the lower court's dismissal of the case.   In October 2012, Kivalina asked the appeals court to rehear the case en banc (before the full panel of appeals court judges), but the court refused to rehear the case.  The plaintiffs filed an appeal with the Supreme Court in February 2013, but the court declined to hear the appeal.

- "Alaskan village takes global warming case to U.S. SC", Jessica Karmasek, Legal Newsline [USA], 8 May 2013
- "Alaskan village wants rehearing of Ninth Circuit's global warming decision", John O'Brien, Legal Newsline [USA], 9 Oct 2012
- "Alaskan village loses appeal in global warming case against oil giants", Leigh Jones, National Law Journal, 24 Sep 2012
- [video] "Appeals court hears argument by village seeking damages from U.S. industry for global warming", Dermot Cole, Fairbanks Daily News-Miner [USA], 29 Nov 2011
- “Kivalina global warming litigation dismissed on political question grounds”, Gil Keteltas, Global Climate Law Blog, 16 Oct 2009
- “ The Arctic fight for survival ”, Jacqueline Head, Al Jazeera, 27 May 2009
- [PDF] “Climate Change Litigation: Familiar Theories of Recovery”, Jonathan B. Shoebotham, Toxic Torts Verdict Reports, Sep 2008
- “Flooded Village Files Suit, Citing Corporate Link to Climate Change”, Felicity Barringer, New York Times, 27 Feb 2008

- Hagens Berman Sobel Shapiro LLP (plaintiffs’ lawyers): “Kivalina - Global Warming”, 2 Oct 2008 [press release]
- Southeastern Legal Foundation & American Justice Partnership: [PDF] “The Most Dangerous Litigation in America: Free Speech Under Attack 'Kivalina'”, 10 Apr 2008
- Dustin Till, Marten Law Group: “Threatened by Rising Seas, Native Village Seeks Lifeline in Federal District Court ”26 Mar 2008 [legal analysis]
- Heather Kendall-Miller, Native American Rights Fund: “Global Warming Project

- Al Jazeera: [VIDEO] “People & Power - Alaska: A case of global proportions”, 27 May 2009.

Link to defendants’ websites regarding climate change:
- AES: “Alternative Energy
- American Electric Power: “Our view on Coal and Climate Change
- BP: “Climate change: Our position
- Chevron: “Climate Change
- ConocoPhillips: “Climate Change position
- DTE Energy: “Climate Change
- Duke Energy: “Global Climate Change: Duke’s Energy Position
- ExxonMobil: “Climate Change
- Shell: “Responding to Climate Change
- Xcel Energy: [PDF] “Climate Policy & Carbon Reductions

Native Village of Kivalina v ExxonMobil, et al., US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit
- [PDF] Plaintiffs-Appellants' Petition for Rehearing En Banc, 4 Oct 2012
- [PDF] Opinion of Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, 21 Sep 2012

Native Village of Kivalina v ExxonMobil, et al., US District Court, Northern District of California
- [PDF] Complaint For Damages and Demand for Jury Trial, 26 Feb 2008
- [PDF] Motion of Certain Oil Company Defendants to Dismiss Plaintiffs' Complaint, 30 Jun 2008
- [PDF] Motion of Certain Oil Company Defendants to Dismiss Plaintiffs' Complaint, 30 Jun 2008
- [PDF] Utility Defendants’ Motion to Dismiss , 30 Jun 2008
- [PDF] Motion to Dismiss of Peabody Energy, 30 Jun 2008
- [PDF] Plaintiffs' Legal Brief Opposing the Motion to Dismiss, 8 Oct 2008
- [PDF] Reply Memorandum in Support of Certain Oil Company Defendants to Dismiss Plaintiffs’ Complaint, 18 Nov 2008
- [PDF] Amended Re-notice of motion and motion of Certain Oil Company Defendants to Dismiss Plaintiffs’ Complaint, 3 Mar 2009
- [PDF] Order Granting Defendants’ Motion to Dismiss for Lack of Subject Matter Jurisdiction, 30 Sep 2009