Attorney General Ellison: ‘Climate damage and deception lawsuit filed in state court belongs in state court’

Hails federal court decision to send lawsuit against ExxonMobil and others back to state court; court calls State’s suit a ‘well-pleaded consumer protection action’ and defendants’ attacks ‘a caricature’

March 31, 2021 (SAINT PAUL) — Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison today hailed the decision of U.S. District Court Judge John R. Tunheim to remand to state court the State’s lawsuit to hold ExxonMobil, Koch Industries, and the American Petroleum Institute accountable under state laws for their decades of deception about climate change and the resulting costs and consequences in Minnesota. 

“We appreciate Judge Tunheim’s clear and thorough analysis in today’s ruling, including both his order to remand our case back to state court where it was originally filed, and to deny the defendants’ motion to stay our case pending proceedings in other federal courts.  This is the 11th federal court to come to the same conclusion—that climate damage and deception lawsuits filed in state court belong in state court.  We are eager to prepare for trial in state court to pursue our claims on behalf of all Minnesotans,” Attorney General Ellison said. 

In his decision, Judge Tunheim observed that the defendants’ attacks on the State’s case amount to “a caricature” and that they “overstate both the State’s claims and what is required to prove them under Minnesota law.” He also wrote that the “Court declines Defendants’ invitation to interpret this well-pleaded consumer protection action as a wholesale attack on all features of global fossil fuel extraction, production, and policy.”   

Attorney General Ellison initially filed the State’s complaint against ExxonMobil, Koch Industries, and the American Petroleum Institute in Ramsey County on June 24, 2020. The complaint alleged violations of the State’s Consumer Fraud Act, Deceptive Trade Practices Act, False Statements in Advertising Act, as well as fraud and misrepresentation, and a failure to warn, under Minnesota common law.  Defendants subsequently removed the case to the U.S. District Court for the District of Minnesota, where oral arguments were held on January 19, 2021.