Description: Defamation lawsuit brought by energy executive against writers and media company for assigning blame for climate change to him and other executives.
DeIuliis v. Engel
Filing Date Type File Action Taken Summary 09/27/2021 Memorandum and Order Download Motions to dismiss granted. Federal Court Dismissed Energy Executive’s Defamation Claims Against Writers Who Said He Was “Killing the Planet”. The federal district court for the Southern District of New York dismissed defamation and false light invasion of privacy claims brought by an individual who had been chief executive officer (CEO) of a coal company against two individual writers and a media company. The defendants published articles on their websites assigning blame for climate change to the plaintiff and 99 other CEOs and calling them “ecocidal planet killers” and the “top 100 people killing the planet.” The court found that these conclusions were not actionable because they were “clearly hyperbolic and … readily understood as representing the authors’ subjective viewpoints, not objective assertions of fact capable of being objectively disproven.” The court also noted that the authors cited a report prepared by the nonprofit group CDP on the “2017 Carbon Majors” as the basis for their conclusions. The court was not persuaded by the plaintiff’s argument that he was mistakenly identified as the CEO of the coal company, when the coal business had been spun off from his company after the period of time covered by the CDP report. The court also found that New York law would apply because its interest in regulating the allegedly tortious conduct was more significant than the interest of Pennsylvania, where the plaintiff was domiciled. Because New York does not recognize a tort of false light invasion of privacy, the court dismissed this claim.