Exxon Mobil Corp. has misplaced one other spherical in its struggle to cease states from pursuing claims that it has deceived buyers and the general public concerning its merchandise and local weather change.
The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court docket has affirmed a trial courtroom order denying ExxonMobil’s “anti-SLAPP” movement to dismiss Legal professional Normal Maura Healey’s lawsuit in opposition to the corporate over its climate-related positioning. Exxon Mobil claimed the lawsuit infringed on its free speech proper.
Healey sued the oil large in 2019, alleging it has been deceptive Massachusetts buyers concerning the fossil fuel-driven local weather change dangers to its enterprise and deceptively promoting its fossil gas merchandise to shoppers. The ruling means the case can proceed.
“Exxon’s repeated makes an attempt to stonewall our lawsuit have been baseless, and this effort was no totally different,” Healey commented. “We look ahead to continuing with our case and having our day in courtroom to point out how Exxon is breaking the regulation and to place an finish to the deception as soon as and for all.”
The state’s excessive courtroom rejected the oil large’s argument that the legal professional basic’s lawsuit entails its proper to petition the federal government and thus ought to be dismissed underneath the state’s “anti-SLAPP” (strategic litigation in opposition to public participation) statute.
The excessive courtroom agreed with Healey that the anti-SLAPP statute is just not enforceable in opposition to civil actions introduced by regulation enforcement.
A state Superior Court docket had beforehand additionally refused to dam the legal professional basic’s lawsuit. It did so on the idea that at the very least one of many counts within the criticism didn’t contain petitioning.
The state Supreme Court docket, nevertheless, based mostly its dismissal of Exxon’s movement on an evaluation of the regulation’s historical past and language that it discovered makes it clear that the anti-SLAPP regulation applies to non-public entities however to not civil enforcement actions by the federal government.
“There is no such thing as a suggestion within the legislative historical past that it was meant to handle authorities enforcement actions. Moreover, not like personal litigants, authorities actors’ selections to prosecute claims are topic to the First Modification and different constitutional safety,” the courtroom famous.
Healey’s criticism alleges that Exxon has made factual misstatements and did not disclose info associated to its merchandise and their influence on the local weather. Additionally, her criticism alleges that among the oil firm’s advertising and marketing and promotional supplies misled shoppers and that its so-called “greenwashing” campaigns wrongly implies that Exxon Mobil is taking steps to resolve local weather change and scale back carbon emissions.
Exxon Mobil has denied the allegations.
The ruling is in line with one in March by a federal appeals courtroom that rejected Exxon Mobil’s effort to cease Massachusetts and New York local weather change lawsuits. The 2nd U.S. Circuit Court docket of Appeals in Manhattan mentioned Exxon couldn’t sue Healey in federal courtroom as a result of it was pursuing the identical case in Massachusetts state courts.
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