Showalter Quoted on Biggest Energy-Related Rulings in 2022

Partner J. Michael Showalter was quoted on two impactful energy-related court rulings in the first half of 2022.

Fossil fuel companies made attempts to keep climate torts brought by state and local governments in federal court. But rulings in the Tenth, Fourth, Ninth, and First Circuit courts reaffirmed the remanding of the suits to state court after the US Supreme Court directed them to expand their reviews of remand orders.

"You're seeing a relatively consistent answer," Mike said about the multiple rulings. "It's hard to envision a situation ... that four judges on the Supreme Court would want to grant certiorari to review something when there appears to be no divergence of opinion among the lower courts."

Mike also commented on the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court’s unanimous ruling that a free speech statute does not shield ExxonMobil Corp in a climate change fraud claim that the company misled both consumers and investors through its statements on a shifting climate.

Mike said the ability for the Massachusetts suit to proceed will encourage other state prosecutors to pursue similar cases against the energy industry, especially if the federal government's ability to address climate change is curtailed and energy companies make climate-related pledges as part of increased environmental, social, and governance (ESG) reporting.

"This is what state [attorney general] offices do, they look for fraud," he said. "When you see power not being exerted at the federal level, this is what happens."

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