Federal appeals court rules State’s climate-change deception lawsuit can proceed in state court

In decision today, 8th Circuit Court of Appeals rules against defendants, upholds U.S. District Court remand of lawsuit to state court where it was originally filed

Attorney General Ellison’s lawsuit alleges ExxonMobil, American Petroleum Institute, and Koch Industries systematically deceived and defrauded Minnesotans about the true causes and costs of climate change

March 23, 2023 (SAINT PAUL) — The lawsuit that Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison filed on behalf of the people of Minnesota against ExxonMobil, the American Petroleum Institute, and Koch Industries for deceiving and defrauding Minnesotans about the true causes and costs of climate change can proceed in Minnesota state court where it was originally filed, the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled unanimously today. The court wrote in part: “Minnesota is not the first state or local government to file this type of climate change litigation. Nor is this the first time that the Energy Companies … have made these jurisdictional arguments. But our sister circuits rejected them in each case. …. Today, we join them.” 

Shortly after Attorney General Ellison filed the lawsuit in June 2020, the defendants removed it to federal district court in Minnesota. In March 2021, the federal district court agreed with Attorney General Ellison that the case should proceed in state court and remanded it there. The defendants appealed to the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals and today, the circuit court upheld the district court, allowing the case to proceed in state court. 

“Imagine how much farther along we’d be in the transition to a low-carbon economy if it weren’t for the defendants’ decades of deception and disinformation. Our state law claims are now headed back to state court where they belong, and where every U.S. Court of Appeals has sent them,” Attorney General Ellison said. 

More than two dozen states and local governments have sued actors in the fossil-fuel industry in their states’ courts for deception related to climate change. In every case, the defendants have immediately removed the cases to federal court. Every federal appeals court that has ruled on the issue has confirmed these cases belong in state courts.