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Legal Resources

Global Warming Litigation
Nuisance Cases

Updated: April 2007



California v. General Motors Corp., No. 3:06-CV-05755 (N.D. Cal. filed Sept. 20, 2006).

Under a line of legal reasoning based on nuisance, the state of California sued six manufacturers of automobiles for contributing to global warming. However, instead of seeking equitable relief and forcing the manufacturers to curtail their emissions, California is requesting compensation for their current and future expenditures related to global warming. This suit is still pending in the District Court for the Northern District of California.


Comer v. Murphy Oil, No. 1:05-CV-436 (S.D. Miss. 2006).

A variety of energy companies are party to a class action suit by fourteen individuals for damages resulting from Hurricane Katrina. The plaintiffs argue that the power plants operated by the defendants emit greenhouse gases which have contributed to global warming. In turn, global warming has contributed to increased strength of weather patterns, including hurricanes such as Katrina. The massive extent of the damage to the plantiffs’ property is alleged to have resulted from the strength of the storm. A decision is pending in the District Court for the Southern District of Mississippi.


Connecticut v. American Elec. Power Co., 406 F.Supp.2d 265 (S.D.N.Y. 2005).

Under the common law tort theory of nuisance, a group of petitioners including eight states, the city of New York, and three land trusts filed suit in the District Court of the Southern District of New York against owners of power plants that emit CO2. The petitioners argue that the contribution of the emitted CO2 to global warming creates a public nuisance. The defendants moved to dismiss the suit for lack of jurisdiction and failure to state a claim. The court found that the question of CO2 emissions is properly decided by the legislation. Since no policy has been determined, legislation has not guided how the judiciary should balance the various factors in play in a global warming-related decision. The court’s ruling has been appealed to the Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit. Open Space Inst. v. American Elec. Power Co., No. 04-CV-05670 (S.D.N.Y. filed July 21, 2004) was consolidated with this case.



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