Description: Public nuisance and trespass action brought by King County in Washington State against fossil fuel companies seeking funding of climate change adaptation program.
King County v. BP p.l.c.
Filing Date Type File Action Taken Summary 09/10/2020 Order Download Stay continued. The district court continued a stay that has been in place since October 2018. The parties jointly requested that the stay be maintained pending resolution of the earlier of (1) defendants’ petition for writ of certiorari to the Supreme Court in City of Oakland v. BP p.l.c. or (2) the Supreme Court’s decisions in two cases involving personal jurisdiction issues. 09/09/2020 Status Report Download Joint further status report filed. 08/27/2020 Order Download Stay continued and parties directed to submit joint proposal for next steps. After the Ninth Circuit’s decisions on jurisdictional issues in the County of San Mateo and City of Oakland cases, the court continued a stay until September 9, 2020 and directed the parties to submit a joint proposal for next steps by that date.
08/26/2020 Status Report Download Joint status report filed. 10/17/2018 Order Download Order issued granting partially unopposed motion to stay proceedings. Federal Court Granted King County’s Request to Stay Climate Case Against Fossil Fuel Companies. On October 17, 2018, the federal district court for the Western District of Washington granted King County’s motion to stay proceedings in the County’s lawsuit seeking to hold fossil fuel companies liable for climate change impacts. The court ordered proceedings to be stayed until the Ninth Circuit issues a decision in San Francisco’s and Oakland’s appeals of the dismissal of their similar lawsuits. The district court found that it was “unlikely that a stay would result in any significant damage or cause any hardship to any party” and that there was “substantial overlap” between King County’s lawsuit and the San Francisco and Oakland lawsuits, “particularly with regard to how and whether state-law public nuisance claims are preempted by federal common law.” 10/03/2018 Amicus Motion Download Motion filed by Indiana and 11 other states for leave to file amicus brief in support of defendants' motion to dismiss. Twelve States Urged Dismissal of King County's Lawsuit Against Fossil Fuel Companies. Twelve states—led by Indiana—filed a motion for leave to file an amicus curiae brief in support of the defendants’ motion to dismiss King County’s lawsuit. The states asserted that the “justiciability of climate change lawsuits under federal common law is an issue of extraordinary importance” to them, and that permitting adjudication of such claims “would disrupt carefully calibrated state regulatory schemes devised by politically accountable officials.” They contended that their interest was “especially strong” because the list of potential defendants is limitless” and they could themselves be future defendants. 09/19/2018 Reply Download Reply filed by King County in support of partially unopposed motion to stay proceedings. 09/14/2018 Opposition Download Opposition filed by defendants BP p.l.c. and Chevron Corporation to plaintiff's motion to stay proceedings. The objecting defendants argued that the stay could harm them by prolonging litigation that could be resolved on legal motions, that King County had not made a “clear case” that allowing the case to go forward would result in hardship or inequity, and that “orderly course of justice” did not support a stay since briefing in the Ninth Circuit was scheduled to continue through January 2019 and the stay could delay King County’s proceeding for a year or more. 09/13/2018 Motion Download Partially unopposed motion to stay proceedings filed by King County. King County Asked Washington Federal Court to Stay Climate Case Until Ninth Circuit Decides Oakland and San Francisco’s Appeal of Dismissal of Their Case. On September 13, 2018, King County filed a motion to stay proceedings in its climate change case against oil and gas companies until the Ninth Circuit decides the pending appeal by Oakland and San Francisco of the dismissal of their similar lawsuits. Three of the five defendants supported the stay request, while the other two objected. 09/11/2018 Motion to Dismiss Download Corrected motion to dismiss first amended complaint for lack of personal jurisdiction filed by BP p.l.c. 09/11/2018 Request Download Request for judicial notice filed by BP p.l.c. to accompany motion to dismiss for lack of personal jurisdiction. 09/04/2018 Order Download Order issued granting parties' stipulated motion regarding briefing schedule. 08/31/2018 Motion to Dismiss Download Motion to dismiss for lack of personal jurisdiction filed by BP p.l.c. 08/31/2018 Motion to Dismiss Download Motion to dismiss for lack of personal jurisdiction filed by Chevron Corp. 08/31/2018 Motion to Dismiss Download Motion to dismiss for lack of personal jurisdiction filed by ConocoPhillips. 08/31/2018 Motion to Dismiss Download Motion to dismiss for lack of personal jurisdiction filed by Exxon Mobil Corp. 08/31/2018 Motion to Dismiss Download Motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim filed by defendants. 08/31/2018 Motion to Dismiss Download Motion to dismiss for lack of personal jurisdiction filed by Royal Dutch Shell plc. 08/17/2018 Complaint Download First amended complaint filed. Amended Complaint and New Motions to Dismiss Filed in King County Case. On August 17, 2018, King County filed an amended complaint in its nuisance and trespass case against oil and gas companies. The amended complaint included additional allegations regarding the companies’ connections to the State of Washington. The defendants filed new motions to dismiss on August 31, both for failure to state a claim and on personal jurisdiction grounds. Briefing of the motions to dismiss will be completed by November 1, 2018. 07/27/2018 Motion to Dismiss Download Motion to dismiss for lack of personal jurisdiction filed by BP p.l.c. 07/27/2018 Motion to Dismiss Download Motion to dismiss for lack of personal jurisdiction filed by Chevron. 07/27/2018 Motion to Dismiss Download Motion to dismiss for lack of personal jurisdiction filed by ConocoPhillips. 07/27/2018 Motion to Dismiss Download Motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim filed by defendants. Fossil Fuel Companies Asked Washington Federal Court to Dismiss King County’s Climate Case. In the climate change public nuisance and trespass action filed by King County, the fossil fuel companies filed motions to dismiss on July 27, 2018. All of the companies joined in a motion to dismiss on the grounds that the County’s claims arise under federal common law and have been displaced by the Clean Air Act. They also argued for dismissal on a number of other grounds, including infringement on the foreign affairs power, Commerce Clause, Due Process and Takings Clauses, preemption by federal law, and First Amendment, as well as violation of separation of powers. In addition, the companies asserted that the County failed to state viable claims. Five of the companies filed separate motions contesting personal jurisdiction. The County’s responses to the motions are due on September 14, and the defendants must serve reply briefs by October 5. No motion for remand has been filed in this case. 07/27/2018 Motion to Dismiss Download Motion to dismiss for lack of personal jurisdiction filed by Exxon Mobil Corporation. 07/27/2018 Motion to Dismiss Download Motion to dismiss for lack of personal jurisdiction filed by Royal Dutch Shell plc. 05/25/2018 Notice Download Notice of removal filed. Chevron Removed King County Climate Change Lawsuit to Federal Court. On May 25, Chevron Corporation removed the case to federal court, stating that the court had both original federal diversity jurisdiction and original federal question jurisdiction. Regarding federal question jurisdiction, the notice of removal asserted that the plaintiff’s claims implicated “uniquely federal interests” and were governed by federal common law, not state law; that the action “necessarily raises disputed and substantial federal questions that a federal forum may entertain without disturbing a congressionally approved balance of responsibilities between the federal and state judiciaries”; that the Clean Air Act and/or other federal statutes and the U.S. Constitution completely preempted the plaintiff’s claims; that the plaintiff’s claims were based on “alleged injuries to and/or conduct on federal enclaves”; and that the action necessarily implicated federal authority over the navigable waters of the United States and therefore fell within the federal court’s original admiralty jurisdiction. Chevron also argued that the court had original jurisdiction under the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act and pursuant to federal officer and bankruptcy removal statutes.
King County v. BP p.l.c.
Filing Date Type File Action Taken Summary 05/09/2018 Complaint Download Complaint filed. King County Sued Five Fossil Fuel Companies in Washington State Court to Compel Funding of Climate Change Adaptation Program. On May 9, 2018, King County in Washington State filed a public nuisance and trespass action in Washington Superior Court against the world’s five largest investor-owned fossil fuel companies. The County asserted that the companies’ “production and promotion of massive quantities of fossil fuels, and their promotion of those fossil fuels’ pervasive use” created a public nuisance of “global warming-induced sea level rise and other climate change hazards.” The County contended that the companies were individually and collectively “substantial contributors” to global warming who promoted the use of fossil fuels despite knowing “for many years that global warming threatened severe and ever catastrophic harms to coastal areas like King County.” The County also contended that the companies knew that their actions would cause invasions of King County property due to sea level rise and storm surge. The County alleged that it was already experiencing climate change impacts, including “warming temperatures, acidifying marine waters, rising seas, increasing flooding risk, decreasing mountain snowpack, and less water in the summer,” that rising sea levels posed an imminent threat of storm surge flooding that could inundate portions of the county, and that the County would be required to spend hundreds of millions of dollars to build infrastructure to protect King County and its residents. The County sought an order of abatement requiring the companies to fund a climate change adaptation program for the County as well as compensatory damages for the costs the County had already incurred.