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Exxon Loses Bid to Dismiss Massachusetts Climate-Change Suit

  • Massachusetts AG Maura Healey obtained two orders from the Suffolk Superior Court denying Exxon Mobil Corporation’s (“Exxon”) motions to dismiss the AG’s suit alleging that Exxon misled consumers and investors about the risks that fossil fuel-driven climate change poses to Exxon’s business, in violation of the Massachusetts Consumer Protection Act and related regulations.
  • In its motion to dismiss for lack of personal jurisdiction and for failure to state a claim on which relief can be granted, Exxon argued that it is an out-of-state corporation and that the Commonwealth cannot challenge its statements and activities outside Massachusetts. In its decision, the court rejected Exxon’s arguments, finding that the complaint alleged conduct by Exxon that would give rise to specific jurisdiction under Massachusetts’s long-arm statute because it alleged that Exxon misled Massachusetts consumers and investors, and that each of the complaint counts state a sufficient claim for relief.
  • In its special motion to dismiss pursuant to the Massachusetts anti-SLAPP (“Strategic Litigation against Public Participation”) statute, Exxon argued that its statements to investors and consumers were petitioning activity within the meaning of the Constitution because they were made at least in part to reach and influence regulators and governing bodies. In its decision, the court found, among other things, that the complaint is not based solely on Exxon’s petitioning activities because the mere fact that statements were made on topics that attract government interest does not make the statements petitioning activities and because Exxon is also accused of omissions, which do not qualify for constitutional protection.