The Texas State Court of Appeals for the Second District issued an opinion Thursday night on the matter of whether the state’s courts have jurisdiction over participants in the climate litigation industry by virtue of their targeting Texas companies.
From Energy in Depth:
On Thursday, an intermediate appellate court in Texas reluctantly denied a petition filed by ExxonMobil that sought pre-suit discovery of attorney Matt Pawa and the California municipalities bringing public nuisance lawsuits against the company for the alleged damages caused by climate change.
Although the Second Court of Appeals in Fort Worth ultimately dismissed the petition, the three-justice panel expressed reluctance in its opinion, acknowledging the merits of ExxonMobil’s claims and criticizing the municipalities for engaging in “lawfare” to pursue “environmental policy changes”:
“Lawfare is an ugly tool by which to seek the environmental policy changes the California Parties desire, enlisting the judiciary to do the work that the other two branches of government cannot or will not do to persuade their constituents that anthropogenic climate change (a) has been conclusively proved and (b) must be remedied by crippling the energy industry. And we are acutely aware that California courts might well be philosophically inclined to join the lawfare battlefield in ways far different than Texas courts.” (emphasis added)
Despite its “impulse to safeguard an industry that is vital to Texas’ economic well-being,” the court found its hands bound by a technical legal issue; the question at hand being if ExxonMobil’s petition had proper jurisdiction to target out-of-state actors. Overturning a lower court’s decision, the Second Court of Appeals ruled that Pawa and the California officials “lack the requisite minimum contacts with Texas to be subject to personal jurisdiction” in the state, and therefore cannot be compelled to cooperate in pre-suit discovery.
But, as put by ALM Media’s Angela Morris, “the final two pages of the 49-page majority ruling made it clear the justices really wanted to side with Exxon.”
Read the opinion here, and the concurring opinion urging the Supreme Court to take up the issue here.