Mississippi Federal Court Sacks Climate Change Lawsuit for a Second Time

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The U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Mississippi once again dismissed claims that the oil and coal industries are liable for property damaged by Hurricane Katrina, finding both that the plaintiffs failed to allege injuries that are "fairly traceable" to the defendants' conduct and that the lawsuit raised non-justiciable political questions.

In Ned Comer, et al. v. Murphy Oil USA, Inc., et al., No. 1:11CV220-LG-RHW (S.D. Miss. Mar. 20, 2012), a group of Coastal Mississippi property owners alleged that the oil and coal industries released greenhouse gases that led to the development and increase of global warming, producing the conditions that formed Hurricane Katrina, which damaged their property. This was the second time these plaintiffs raised these claims against the same defendants in this District Court. In the original lawsuit, the District Court dismissed the plaintiffs' claims because it found that the plaintiffs lacked standing and that their claims were non-justiciable pursuant to the political question doctrine. Comer v. Murphy Oil USA, No. 05-436 (S.D. Miss. Aug. 30, 2007), rev'd, 585 F.3d 855 (5th Cir. 2009), vacated on grant of reh'g en banc, 598 F.3d 208 (5th Cir. 2010), appeal dismissed, No. 07-60756, 2010 WL 2136658 (5th Cir. May 28, 2010), mandamus denied, No. 10-294 (U.S. Jan. 10, 2011). Subsequent to a long and complicated procedural history, resulting in the District Court's original dismissal being left firmly in place, the plaintiffs refiled their claims, relying on a Mississippi statute that purportedly permitted refiling.

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