CT AG Joins Climate Litigation Sweepstakes: Documents Show Recruitment by Tort Bar, Neighbor Outed as Seeking "Sustainable Funding Stream" - Climate Litigation Watch

CT AG Joins Climate Litigation Sweepstakes: Documents Show Recruitment by Tort Bar, Neighbor Outed as Seeking “Sustainable Funding Stream”

Latest AG to Put Bloomberg-Financed Attorney to Work Chasing Energy Companies

From the Hartford Courant, which hints at an important point its source in the AGO may have let slip (emphasis added):

Connecticut on Monday joined a growing list of states and local governments using litigation to hold fossil fuel companies accountable for causing climate change, employing a strategy it says may tap into evidence off limits in many other cases.

Attorney General William Tong is filing suit in Hartford Superior Court against ExxonMobil, considered the grandaddy of the companies now accused of knowing for decades their products contributed to the emissions that cause global warming and climate change, but hiding it from the public…

“We tried to think long and hard about what our best and most impactful contribution would be,” Tong said. “And what we settled on was a single defendant with a very simple claim: Exxon knew, and they lied.”

The statement in bold text may allude to an arrangement that Tong and other progressive AGs have entered to serve as annexes, or create a Super Law Firm, in support of the plaintiffs’ bar essentially in return for receiving information that is otherwise covered by the obligation of confidentiality. More on this, what is likely to prove an enormous development in the climate litigation industry, at a later date.

CLW readers also recall the 2012 meeting in La Jolla, California that birthed this industry. There, activists and the tort bar called for “a single sympathetic attorney general” to begin subpoenaing records of private parties targeted with climate tort suits. A federal court later described this request to initiate investigations of perceived opponents of a shared political and policy agenda a “‘strateg[y] to win access to internal documents’ of fossil fuel companies”, in aid of a tort litigation campaign.

That call to revolutionize public service and law enforcement is generally attributed to plaintiff’s tort lawyer Matt Pawa, who has long targeted CT OAG to go after Pawa’s civil litigation target, specifically ExxonMobil, consistent with the La Jolla call to recruit AGs for the job.

Once the dean of this institution, Pawa has been largely crowded out of his role by the firm Sher Edling, whose aggressive plaintiff-recruiting operation has made its way into the public realm and even pleadings in the 1st Circuit and SCOTUS.

Both Sher Edling and Pawa recruited CT AG Tong to wade into the fray, with encouragement from the Rhode Island AGO to bring one or the other in.

Rhode Island, of course, has been exposed as confessing to its pursuit being about the politician’s Holy Grail, the “sustainable funding stream.”

These records above are from requests under the Nutmeg State’s open records law. Readers will notice the referenced email regarding Pawa; it was not attached but withheld as privileged, which is the subject of one of numerous open records appeals by the transparency group Energy Policy Advocates. Somewhat recently, CT AGO suddenly shifted to a posture of extreme obstruction (hiding even names and dates on emails). CLW knows why, and the reason is that OAG contracted with other AG offices to do so.

Finally, like New York and more recent entrants including Massachusetts, Minnesota, District of Columbia and Delaware, Connecticut has quietly taken on a privately hired and Michael Bloomberg-funded attorney to help advance this agenda.

Indeed, on Connecticut’s Complaint we see a “Special Assistant Attorney General,” Benjamin W. Cheney, in addition to the tort lawyers’ correspondent Levine, and the party who public records show is running CT AGO’s coordination re the tort bar, Daniel Salton. Cheney’s LinkedIn profile states he is placed there from the Bloomberg center.

Connecticut attorneys suggest to CLW that that arrangement runs contrary to the state’s constitution, a challenge which has not yet been tried, though the opportunity to do so has now presented itself.

All of these stories noted above are developing.