Nuisance case: States and NGOs case reinstated
On 21 September 2009, the US Court of Appeals reinstated Connecticut/Open Space Institute v. American Electric Power. This public nuisance lawsuit was filed against the 5 largest emitters of greenhouse gas emissions in the US in 2004 - seeking a court order to reduce greenhouse gas emissions under the common law doctrine of public nuisance.
The plaintiffs were 8 states, the City of New York and 3 land trusts. A district court judge dismissed the case as a political question in 2005. On 21 September 2009, the US Court of Appeals ruled in favour of the plaintiffs not only on the political question but on every other issue that they briefed and argued.
The court ruled:
“We hold that the district court erred in dismissed the complaints on political question grounds; that all of Plaintiffs have standing; that the federal common law of nuisance governs their claims; that Plaintiffs have stated claims under the federal common law of nuisance; that their claims are not displaced; and that TVA's alternative grounds for dismissal are without merit. We therefore vacate the judgment of the district court and remand for further proceedings.”
Matt Pawa, lawyer for Organisational Plaintiffs-Appellants in the case, has stated:
“Today, we celebrate a victory for mother Earth. Global Warming polluters everywhere: you are on notice that you are committing a tort and we will sue you.”Read the decision.
Read media on the decision: