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:•


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  1. I think the cops are doing a great job locking up criminals. The Murder rates in the inner cities are skyrocketing and you think that too any people are being incarcerated. Maybe we need to lock up more of them. We have the ACLU, BLM, NAACP, Civil right Division of the DOJ, the innocent Project etc. We have court system with an appeal process that can go on for years, with attorneys supplied by the government. I'm confused as to how that translates into the idea that the defendants are not being represented properly. Maybe the attorneys need to do more Pro-Bono work

  2. We do not have 10% of our population (which would mean about 32 million) incarcerated. It's closer to 2%.

  3. If a class action suit or other manner of retribution is possible, count me in. I have email and voicemail from the man. He colluded with opposing counsel, I am certain. My case was damaged so severely it nearly lost me everything and I am still paying dearly.

  4. There's probably a lot of blame that can be cast around for Indiana Tech's abysmal bar passage rate this last February. The folks who decided that Indiana, a state with roughly 16,000 to 18,000 attorneys, needs a fifth law school need to question the motives that drove their support of this project. Others, who have been "strong supporters" of the law school, should likewise ask themselves why they believe this institution should be supported. Is it because it fills some real need in the state? Or is it, instead, nothing more than a resume builder for those who teach there part-time? And others who make excuses for the students' poor performance, especially those who offer nothing more than conspiracy theories to back up their claims--who are they helping? What evidence do they have to support their posturing? Ultimately, though, like most everything in life, whether one succeeds or fails is entirely within one's own hands. At least one student from Indiana Tech proved this when he/she took and passed the February bar. A second Indiana Tech student proved this when they took the bar in another state and passed. As for the remaining 9 who took the bar and didn't pass (apparently, one of the students successfully appealed his/her original score), it's now up to them (and nobody else) to ensure that they pass on their second attempt. These folks should feel no shame; many currently successful practicing attorneys failed the bar exam on their first try. These same attorneys picked themselves up, dusted themselves off, and got back to the rigorous study needed to ensure they would pass on their second go 'round. This is what the Indiana Tech students who didn't pass the first time need to do. Of course, none of this answers such questions as whether Indiana Tech should be accredited by the ABA, whether the school should keep its doors open, or, most importantly, whether it should have even opened its doors in the first place. Those who promoted the idea of a fifth law school in Indiana need to do a lot of soul-searching regarding their decisions. These same people should never be allowed, again, to have a say about the future of legal education in this state or anywhere else. Indiana already has four law schools. That's probably one more than it really needs. But it's more than enough.

  5. This man Steve Hubbard goes on any online post or forum he can find and tries to push his company. He said court reporters would be obsolete a few years ago, yet here we are. How does he have time to search out every single post about court reporters and even spy in private court reporting forums if his company is so successful???? Dude, get a life. And back to what this post was about, I agree that some national firms cause a huge problem.