Beveridge & Diamond

Fifth Circuit to Rehear En Banc Comer v. Murphy Oil Climate Change Nuisance Case

Beveridge & Diamond, P.C., March 4, 2010

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit has granted defendant energy companies’ petitions for rehearing en banc (see attached) of the landmark panel decision issued last fall in the climate nuisance case Comer v. Murphy Oil Co., 585 F.3d 855 (5th Cir. 2009).  The Comer panel held that individual property owners on the Gulf Coast had standing and stated a cause of action for state common law nuisance to seek damages against the defendant energy companies for allegedly contributing to climate change that increased the intensity of Hurricane Katrina.  We reviewed the sweeping and controversial implications of that decision in an earlier client alert, available at  Comer v. Murphy Oil followed and expanded on the reasoning of a Second Circuit panel in Connecticut v. American Electric Power Co., 582 F.3d 309 (2d Cir. 2009), which held that state governments and advocacy groups could seek injunctive relief against greenhouse gas emitters based on climate change tort theories.  Petitions for rehearing en banc are pending in the AEP case. 

The en banc hearing in Cormer v. Murphy Oil will occur the week of May 24, 2010.  The briefs of defendants/appellants challenging the panel decision are due March 31, 2010, and briefs of amici curiae supporting the defendants are due April 7, 2010. 

For more information, please contact John Hanson at (202) 789-6015,, Jimmy Slaughter at (202) 789-6040,, or Nicholas Van Aelstyn at (415) 262-4008,   This alert was prepared with the assistance of Alexandra M. Wyatt.

For a printable PDF of this alert, please click here




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