Delaware v. BP Am. Inc.

Decision Date05 January 2022
Docket NumberC.A. No. 20-1429-LPS
Citation578 F.Supp.3d 618
Parties State of DELAWARE, ex rel. Kathleen Jennings, Attorney General of the State of Delaware, Plaintiff, v. BP AMERICA INC., BP P.L.C., Chevron Corporation, Chevron U.S.A. Inc., Conocophjllips, Conocophillips Company, Phillips 66, Phillips 66 Company, Exxon Mobil Corporation, Exxonmobil Oil Corporation, XTO Energy Inc., Hess Corporation, Marathon Oil Corporation, Marathon Oil Company, Marathon Petroleum Corporation, Marathon Petroleum Company LP, Speedway LLC, Murphy Oil Corporation, Murphy USA Inc., Royal Dutch Shell Plc, Shell Oil Company, Citgo Petroleum Corporation, Total S.A., Totalenergies Marketing USA, Inc., Occidental Petroleum Corporation, Devon Energy Corporation, Apache Corporation, CNX Resources Corporation, Consol Energy Inc., Ovintiv, Inc., and American Petroleum Institute, Defendants.
CourtU.S. District Court — District of Delaware

Christian Douglas Wright, Jameson A.L. Tweedie, and Ralph K. Durstein III, DELAWARE DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE, Wilmington, DE, Victor M. Sher and Matthew K. Edling, SHER EDLING LLP, San Francisco, CA, Attorneys for Plaintiff

David E. Wilks and R. Stokes Nolte, WILKS LAW, LLC, Wilmington, DE, Theodore J. Boutrous, Jr. and William E. Thomson, GIBSON, DUNN & CRUTCHER LLP, Los Angeles, CA, Andrea E. Neuman, GIBSON, DUNN & CRUTCHER LLP, New York, NY, Thomas G. Hungar, GIBSON, DUNN & CRUTCHER LLP, Washington, DC, Joshua D. Dick, GIBSON, DUNN & CRUTCHER LLP, San Francisco, CA, Attorneys for Defendants Chevron Corporation and Chevron U.S.A. Inc.

Steven L. Caponi and Matthew B. Goeller, K&L GATES LLP, Wilmington, DE, David C. Frederick, Grace W. Knofczynski, and Daniel S. Severson, KELLOGG, HANSEN, TODD, FIGEL & FREDERICK, P.L.L.C., Washington, DC, Attorneys for Defendants Royal Dutch Shell plc and Shell Oil Company

Catherine A. Gaul, ASHBY & GEDDES, Wilmington, DE, Nancy G. Milburn and Diana E. Reiter, ARNOLD & PORTER KAYE SCHOLER LLP, New York, NY, Jonathan W. Hughes, ARNOLD & PORTER KAYE SCHOLER LLP, San Francisco, CA, Matthew T. Heartney and John D. Lombardo, ARNOLD & PORTER KAYE SCHOLER LLP, Los Angeles, CA, Attorneys for Defendants BP America Inc. and BP p.l.c.

Kenneth J. Nachbar and Alexandra M. Cumings, MORRIS NICHOLS ARSHT & TUNNELL LLP, Wilmington, DE, Nathan P. Eimer, Pamela R. Hanebutt, and Lisa S. Meyer, EIMER STAHL LLP, Chicago, IL, Robert E. Dunn, EIMER STAHL LLP, San Jose, CA, Attorneys for Defendant CITGO Petroleum Corporation

Jeffrey L. Moyer and Christine D. Haynes, RICHARDS, LAYTON & FINGER, P.A., Wilmington, DE, Kevin Orsini and Vanessa A. Lavely, CRAVATH, SWAINE & MOORE LLP, New York, NY, Attorneys for Defendant Occidental Petroleum Corporation

Colleen D. Shields and Patrick M. Brannigan, ECKERT SEAMANS CHERIN & MELLOTT, LLC, Wilmington, DE, Tristan L. Duncan, Daniel B. Rogers, and William F. Northrip, SHOOK, HARDY & BACON L.L.P., Attorneys for Defendant Murphy USA Inc.

Antoinette D. Hubbard and Stephanie A. Fox, MARON MARVEL BRADLEY ANDERSON & TARDY LLC, Wilmington, DE, Shannon S. Broome and Ann Marie Mortimer, HUNTON ANDREWS KURTH LLP, San Francisco, CA, Shawn Patrick Regan, HUNTON ANDREWS KURTH LLP, New York, NY, Attorneys for Defendants Marathon Petroleum Corporation, Marathon Petroleum Company LP, and Speedway LLC

Kevin J. Mangan, Kristen H. Cramer, and Nicholas T. Verna, WOMBLE BOND DICKINSON (US) LLP, Wilmington, DE, Andrew G. McBride, MCGUIREWOODS LLP, Washington, DC, Attorneys for Defendant American Petroleum Institute

Christian J. Singewald, WHITE AND WILLIAMS LLP, Wilmington, DE, Joy C. Fuhr, Brian D. Schmalzbach, and W. Cole Geddy, MCGUIREWOODS LLP, Richmond, VA, Attorneys for Defendant Devon Energy Corporation

Mackenzie M. Wrobel, DUANE MORRIS LLP, Wilmington, DE, Michael F. Healy, SHOOK HARDY & BACON LLP, San Francisco, CA, Michael L. Fox, DUANE MORRIS LLP, San Francisco, CA, Attorneys for Defendant Ovintiv Inc.

Paul D. Brown, CHIPMAN BROWN CICERO & COLE, LLP, Wilmington, DE, Kathleen Taylor Sooy and Tracy A. Roman, CROWELL & MORING LLP, Washington, DC, Honor R. Costello, CROWELL & MORING LLP, New York, NY, Attorneys for Defendants CNX Resources Corp. and CONSOL Energy Inc.

Michael P. Kelly, Daniel J. Brown, and Alexandra M. Joyce, MCCARTER & ENGLISH LLP, Wilmington, DE, Steven M. Bauer and Margaret A. Tough, LATHAM & WATKINS LLP, San Francisco, CA, Jameson R. Jones, and Daniel R. Brody, BARTLIT BECK LLP, Denver, CO, Attorneys for Defendants ConocoPhillips and ConocoPhillips Company

Daniel A. Mason and Matthew D. Stachel, PAUL, WEISS, RIFKIND, WHARTON & GARRISON LLP, Wilmington, DE, Yahonnes Cleary and Caitlin E. Grusauskas, PAUL, WEISS, RIFKIND, WHARTON & GARRISON LLP, New York, NY, Attorneys for Defendants Exxon Mobil Corporation, ExxonMobil Oil Corporation, and XTO Energy Inc.

Michael P. Kelly, Daniel J. Brown, and Alexandra M. Joyce, MCCARTER & ENGLISH LLP, Wilmington, DE, Steven M. Bauer and Margaret A. Tough, LATHAM & WATKINS LLP, San Francisco, CA, Attorneys for Defendants Phillips 66 and Phillips 66 Company

Robert W. Whetzel, RICHARDS LAYTON & FINGER, P.A., Wilmington, DE, Patrick W. Mizell, Matthew R. Stamme, Stephanie L. Noble, and Brooke A. Noble, VINSON & ELKINS L.L.P., Houston, TX, Mortimer H. Hartwell, VINSON & ELKINS L.L.P., San Francisco, CA, Attorneys for Defendant Apache Corporation

Michael A. Barlow, ABRAMS & BAYLISS LLP, Wilmington, DE, Robert P. Reznick, ORRICK, HERRINGTON & SUTCLIFFE LLP, Washington, DC, James Stengel and Marc R. Shapiro, ORRICK, HERRINGTON & SUTCLIFFE LLP, New York, NY, Catherine Y. Lui, ORRICK, HERRINGTON & SUTCLIFFE LLP, San Francisco, CA, Attorneys for Defendant Marathon Oil Corporation

Joseph J. Bellew, WHITE AND WILLIAMS LLP, Wilmington, DE, J. Scott Janoe, BAKER BOTTS L.L.P., Houston, TX, Megan Berge, BAKER BOTTS L.L.P., Washington, DC, Attorneys for Defendant Hess Corporation

Joseph J. Bellew, WHITE AND WILLIAMS LLP, Wilmington, DE, J. Scott Janoe, BAKER BOTTS L.L.P., Houston, TX, Megan Berge, BAKER BOTTS L.L.P., Washington, DC, Attorneys for Defendant Murphy Oil Corporation

Robert W. Whetzel and Blake Rohrbacher, RICHARDS LAYTON & FINGER, P.A., Wilmington, DE, Anna Rotman, KIRKLAND & ELLIS LLP, Houston, TX, Attorneys for Defendants Total S.A. and TotalEnergies Marketing USA, Inc.

MEMORANDUM OPINION

STARK, U.S. District Judge:

Pending before the Court is the State of Delaware's ("Delaware" or "Plaintiff") motion to remand, filed pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1447(c). (D.I. 86) The Court has reviewed the complaint (D.I. 1-1), the notice of removal (D.I. 1), and the parties’ briefs, exhibits, declarations, and notices of supplemental authority (see, e.g. , D.I. 89, 96-99, 101, 104, 107, 108, 113, 119). The Court also heard argument via teleconference on May 19, 2021. (D.I. 111) ("Tr.") For the reasons set forth below, the Court will grant Plaintiff's motion.1

I. BACKGROUND

On September 10, 2020, Plaintiff filed suit in the Delaware Superior Court against numerous major corporations having operations in the fossil fuel industry (collectively, "Defendants"). Plaintiff's complaint asserts solely state-law claims, specifically for: (1) negligent failure to warn, (2) trespass, (3) nuisance, and (4) violations of the Delaware Consumer Fraud Act.2 (D.I. 1-1 ¶¶ 234-80) Plaintiff's claims are based on an alleged disinformation campaign undertaken by Defendants, purportedly to mislead the public and consumers by misrepresenting the devastating impacts of climate change and its link to fossil fuels – ultimately leading to disastrous climate impacts on the State of Delaware, as the result of increased extraction, production, and consumption of fossil fuels. (See id. ¶¶ 1-12)3

According to Plaintiff, Defendants have known for more than 50 years that their fossil fuel products create greenhouse gas pollution having significant adverse impacts on the climate and sea levels. (See id. ¶¶ 1, 7, 62-103) Instead of disclosing the known harms associated with their products, Defendants embarked on a campaign of denial and disinformation about the existence, cause, and adverse effects of global warming, which was designed to protect and expand the consumption of their fossil fuel products. (See id. ¶¶ 104-60) As the scientific consensus about the causes and consequences of climate change has strengthened, Defendants continued to mislead the public by advertising that certain fossil fuel products are "green" or "clean," and falsely portraying themselves as environmentally conscious companies that invest heavily in renewable energy sources. (See id. ¶¶ 161-210)

Plaintiff alleges it has suffered, and will foreseeably continue to suffer, damages from the climate impacts purportedly caused by Defendants’ disinformation campaign, including accelerating sea level rise, increased extreme weather events, ocean acidification, and elevated average air temperature. (See id. ¶¶ 226-30) Plaintiff further contends it has incurred, and will continue to incur, expenses to preemptively mitigate the injuries caused by Defendants’ misconduct. (See id. ¶ 231) Plaintiff seeks compensatory damages, penalties under the Delaware Consumer Fraud Act, punitive damages, and attorneys’ fees and costs.4 (See id. at 217) (Prayer for Relief)

On October 23, 2020, Defendants removed this action from the Delaware Superior Court to this Court, citing seven grounds for federal jurisdiction: (1) federal common law, (2) Grable jurisdiction, (3) complete preemption by the Clean Air Act ("CAA"), (4) federal enclave jurisdiction, (5) the federal officer removal statute, 28 U.S.C. § 1442, (6) jurisdiction under the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act ("OCSLA"), 43 U.S.C. § 1331, et seq. , and (7) the Class Action Fairness Act ("CAFA"), 28 U.S.C. § 1453. (See D.I. 1)

Plaintiff filed the pending motion on November 20, 2020, seeking remand of the instant action back to the Delaware Superior Court. (D.I. 86)

II. LEGAL STANDARDS

Federal courts are "courts of limited jurisdiction" and "possess only that power authorized by Constitution and statute."...

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  • City of Annapolis v. BP P.L.C.
    • United States
    • U.S. District Court — District of Maryland
    • September 29, 2022
    ...191, 204 (D.N.J. 2021), aff'd sub nom. City of Hoboken v. Chevron Corp., 45 F.4th 699 (3d Cir. 2022); Delaware v. BP Am. Inc., 578 F.Supp.3d 618, 634 (D. Del.), aff'd sub nom. City of Hoboken v. Chevron Corp., 45 F.4th 699 (3d Cir. 2022); Connecticut v. Exxon Mobil Corp., No. 3:20-CV-1555, ......

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