Exxon decries ‘coordinated attack’ from N.Y., Mass.

Source: By Jennifer Hijazi, E&E News reporter • Posted: Tuesday, November 19, 2019

Exxon filed its letter Friday with the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, which is hearing a case the oil firm filed against Attorneys General Maura Healey of Massachusetts and Letitia James of New York.

The letter targets a recent announcement by Healey, a Democrat, to sue the company for lying to shareholders and consumers about the costs of climate change (Climatewire, Oct. 25). Exxon’s missive also harpooned a separate investor fraud case litigated by James, another Democrat, as “slanderous hyperbole” — especially after the prosecution dropped most of its claims on the final day of trial earlier this month (Climatewire, Nov. 18).

Throughout its letter to the 2nd Circuit, Exxon referred to Healey as “MAAG” and James as “NYAG.”

“MAAG’s rush to the courthouse during the NYAG trial, despite having obtained no evidence during its so-called investigation, provides further proof of the pretextual nature of MAAG’s official actions,” attorneys for Exxon wrote. “These developments demonstrate the ongoing nature of NYAG and MAAG’s unconstitutional conduct.”

Exxon’s lawsuit, originally filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, attempted to halt the states’ fraud investigations.

The company said the probes — which eventually led to lawsuits — were politically motivated retaliations against Exxon’s views on climate change.

Judge Valerie Caproni for the New York district court last year tossed Exxon’s lawsuit based on the company’s “extremely thin allegations and speculative inferences” against Massachusetts and New York.

Caproni, an Obama appointee, found Exxon’s claims “implausible” and dismissed the company’s case for failing to state a claim.

Exxon appealed and is awaiting a ruling from the 2nd Circuit.

Meanwhile, the lawsuit born from New York’s investigation recently made its way to trial, and a decision is expected within a month.

Healey launched Massachusetts’ lawsuit, which raises additional claims of consumer fraud, in state court in October.