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Climate litigation focus of lecture

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Civil Litigation as a Tool for Regulating Climate Change will be the topic of the 25th Annual Monsanto Lecture on Tort Law & Jurisprudence at Valparaiso University School of Law on Feb. 18.

“The conference will explore the interlinked policy, science, legal, and political questions of utilizing the American litigation system, and particularly its tort theories of liability, to regulate climate change,” according to a statement on the school’s website.

There are three major federal cases that have been filed seeking damages due to companies alleged to have caused global warming.

The United States District Court, Southern District of New York judge who handled Connecticut v. American Electric Power, Co., a public nuisance lawsuit filed by eight state attorneys general, the city of New York, and three land trusts against six electric power companies, granted summary judgment to defendants in that case. That decision was reversed by the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals. The Supreme Court of the United States agreed Dec. 6 to hear this case in the spring.

Two other cases could be affected by the Connecticut case.

In Comer v. Murphy Oil USA, property owners filed a lawsuit in Mississippi against Murphy Oil USA, claiming its contribution to climate change contributed to the intensity of Hurricane Katrina. The District Court granted the defendant’s motion to dismiss, and the 5th Circuit initially reversed. However, the full 5th Circuit agreed to hear the matter en banc but has had difficulty getting a quorum. Meanwhile, plaintiffs petitioned the Supreme Court for a writ of mandamus to order the 5th Circuit to reinstate the case.

Native Village of Kivalina v. ExxonMobil Corporation involved residents of an Inupiat Eskimo village in Alaska who must relocate due to global warming at a cost of $95 to $400 million. That case was dismissed by the U.S. District Court, Northern District of California and is awaiting a decision from the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals.

The issues in these cases and other global warming concerns in litigation will be discussed by professor Daniel Farber, director of the Center for Law, Energy and the Environment at the University of California at Berkeley; professor Michael B. Gerrard, director of the Center for Climate Change Law at Columbia University School of Law; professor Daniel Bodansky of the School of Sustainability and School of Law at Arizona State University; and Brent Newell, general counsel of the Center on Race, Poverty, and the Environment in San Francisco.

The conference is $100 for practicing attorneys and professionals, $50 for employees of non-profit organizations, and there is no charge for students.

To register, contact Jo Ann Campbell at (219) 465-7829 or (888) 825-7652; fax: (219) 465-7808; or e-mail: litigation.conference@valpolaw.net.•

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  1. Indiana's seatbelt law is not punishable as a crime. It is an infraction. Apparently some of our Circuit judges have deemed settled law inapplicable if it fails to fit their litmus test of political correctness. Extrapolating to redefine terms of behavior in a violation of immigration law to the entire body of criminal law leaves a smorgasbord of opportunity for judicial mischief.

  2. I wonder if $10 diversions for failure to wear seat belts are considered moral turpitude in federal immigration law like they are under Indiana law? Anyone know?

  3. What a fine article, thank you! I can testify firsthand and by detailed legal reports (at end of this note) as to the dire consequences of rejecting this truth from the fine article above: "The inclusion and expansion of this right [to jury] in Indiana’s Constitution is a clear reflection of our state’s intention to emphasize the importance of every Hoosier’s right to make their case in front of a jury of their peers." Over $20? Every Hoosier? Well then how about when your very vocation is on the line? How about instead of a jury of peers, one faces a bevy of political appointees, mini-czars, who care less about due process of the law than the real czars did? Instead of trial by jury, trial by ideological ordeal run by Orwellian agents? Well that is built into more than a few administrative law committees of the Ind S.Ct., and it is now being weaponized, as is revealed in articles posted at this ezine, to root out post moderns heresies like refusal to stand and pledge allegiance to all things politically correct. My career was burned at the stake for not so saluting, but I think I was just one of the early logs. Due, at least in part, to the removal of the jury from bar admission and bar discipline cases, many more fires will soon be lit. Perhaps one awaits you, dear heretic? Oh, at that Ind. article 12 plank about a remedy at law for every damage done ... ah, well, the founders evidently meant only for those damages done not by the government itself, rabid statists that they were. (Yes, that was sarcasm.) My written reports available here: Denied petition for cert (this time around): http://tinyurl.com/zdmawmw Denied petition for cert (from the 2009 denial and five year banishment): http://tinyurl.com/zcypybh Related, not written by me: Amicus brief: http://tinyurl.com/hvh7qgp

  4. Justice has finally been served. So glad that Dr. Ley can finally sleep peacefully at night knowing the truth has finally come to the surface.

  5. While this right is guaranteed by our Constitution, it has in recent years been hampered by insurance companies, i.e.; the practice of the plaintiff's own insurance company intervening in an action and filing a lien against any proceeds paid to their insured. In essence, causing an additional financial hurdle for a plaintiff to overcome at trial in terms of overall award. In a very real sense an injured party in exercise of their right to trial by jury may be the only party in a cause that would end up with zero compensation.

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