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Posted on: February 12, 2021

Maui County scores a victory in lawsuit against fossil fuel companies

Today a federal court dealt a blow to fossil fuel companies sued by the County of Maui for costs associated with the impacts of climate change. 

Federal District Court Judge Derrick K. Watson ruled in County of Maui v. Chevron that the federal court does not have jurisdiction over the case and remanded the action back to state court.

Maui County filed its case in Hawaii state court because all of the claims stem from state law and properly belong in state courts. However, attorneys for the oil companies tried unsuccessfully to have the Maui case moved to federal court.

Judge Watson’s order explains that the claims the County “elected to pursue in these cases reveal that federal jurisdiction is lacking on the grounds advanced by Defendants” and while Defendants attempted to “misconstrue” the County’s claims there is “no basis for federal jurisdiction.” Judge Watson’s ruling is in line with several similar cases in other jurisdictions. 

Mayor Michael Victorino said: “We expect this to be the first of many victories for Maui County in this case. Big Oil companies will have to answer for what they did. We hope that our case will shine a light on the causes of climate change and how Big Oil concealed that information just to make an extra buck. They must pay for the damages they are causing to our islands.” 

A copy of Judge Watson’s order can be found at this link:

https://www.mauicounty.gov/DocumentCenter/View/125825/21221-Order-granting-remand-to-State-Circuit-Court

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