Description: Action by Colorado local governments seeking damages and other relief from fossil fuel companies for climate change harms.
Board of County Commissioners of Boulder County v. Suncor Energy (U.S.A.) Inc.
Filing Date Type File Action Taken Summary 08/31/2018 Memorandum of Law Download Brief submitted in support of plaintiffs' motion to remand. Brief Filed in Support of Remand Motion in Boulder Climate Change Cases. On August 31, 2018, Boulder County, San Miguel County, and the City of Boulder filed a memorandum of law in the federal district court for the District of Colorado in support of their motion to remand their case seeking to hold fossil fuel companies liable for causing climate change-related damages, including increased wildfires, extreme weather, and drought. They filed the remand motion on July 30, 2018. In the memorandum of law, the plaintiffs argued that they had “filed state law claims, in state court, for harms suffered entirely in Colorado.” They argued that the well-pleaded complaint rule therefore foreclosed the fossil fuel companies’ argument that their claims were actually federal common law claims. In addition, they asserted that even if an unpled federal common law claim could be the basis for removal, federal common law did not govern their claims. The plaintiffs also argued that federal issues raised by the defendants were defenses and therefore did not create federal jurisdiction. In addition, the plaintiffs asserted that the Clean Air Act did not completely preempt their claims, and that the defendants’ other avenues for federal jurisdiction were not viable. 08/28/2018 Notice Download Supplemental notice of related cases filed by defendants. 07/30/2018 Motion Download Motion to remand filed. Boulder and San Miguel Counties and City of Boulder Moved to Remand Climate Change Lawsuits to State Court. On July 30, 2018, the Boulder County Board of County Commissioners, the San Miguel County Board of County Commissioners, and the City of Boulder moved to remand their climate change lawsuit against four fossil fuel companies to state court. The plaintiffs said they would fully brief the remand issues in accordance with a schedule ordered by the court. 07/24/2018 Order Download Order issued setting schedule for remand motion. The court set a schedule for the remand motion. The plaintiffs’ brief is due on August 31, the defendants must file a response by October 12, and the plaintiffs may file a reply on or before November 12. The court denied without prejudice a motion for an indefinite continuance of discovery and initial disclosures and said the parties could re-file before a magistrate judge if they consented to magistrate judge jurisdiction. 06/29/2018 Notice Download Notice of removal filed. The defendants filed their notice of removal on June 29, 2018—almost three weeks after the plaintiffs amended their complaint to add a civil conspiracy claim. The defendants asserted a number of bases for removal, including, “[f]irst and foremost,” that the plaintiffs’ claims could only arise under federal common law due to the “uniquely federal interests” at stake, including energy, environmental, and national security policy. The additional grounds for removal asserted by the defendants included complete preemption of plaintiffs’ claims by the Clean Air Act; the necessary and unavoidable presence of disputed and substantial federal issues; federal enclave doctrine; the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act; federal officer removal; and bankruptcy removal.
Board of County Commissioners of Boulder County v. Suncor Energy (U.S.A.), Inc.
Filing Date Type File Action Taken Summary 06/11/2018 Complaint Download Amended complaint filed. 04/17/2018 Complaint Download Complaint filed. Colorado Local Governments Sued Fossil Fuel Companies for Climate Change Damages. Three Colorado local government entities—the City of Boulder and the Boards of County Commissioners of Boulder and San Miguel Counties—filed a lawsuit against fossil fuel companies seeking damages and other relief for the companies’ role in causing climate change. The local governments alleged they already had suffered and incurred expenses to respond to climate change-related harms stemming from increased and more serious heat waves, wildfires, droughts, and floods, and that these harms would worsen over time. They asserted that the defendants—Exxon Mobil Corporation and affiliates of Suncor Energy Inc.—“knowingly and substantially contributed to the climate crisis by producing, promoting and selling a substantial portion of the fossil fuels that are causing and exacerbating climate change, while concealing and misrepresenting the dangers associated with their intended use.” The plaintiffs asserted causes of action for public nuisance, private nuisance, trespass, and unjust enrichment, as well as a claim of deceptive trade practices under the Colorado Consumer Protection Act. They asked the court to award them monetary relief as compensation for their past and future damages and for costs to mitigate climate change’s impacts and also sought remediation or abatement of the hazards by “practical means,” though the complaint expressly disclaimed requests to enjoin oil and gas operations or sales, to enforce emissions controls, relief related to injuries on federal lands, or relief based on defendants’ lobbying activities.