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Comer v. Murphy Oil USA

Citation: 40 ELR 20147
No. No. 07-60756, (5th Cir., 05/28/2010) vacated; appeal dismissed

The Fifth Circuit vacates an earlier ruling in which a panel reversed a lower court decision dismissing Mississippi residents' class action lawsuit against several energy, fossil fuel, and chemical companies for their alleged contribution to climate change. When the court first granted rehearing en banc, seven of the court's 16 active judges recused themselves from the case due to ties from the defendant companies. The nine remaining judges granted rehearing and reversed the panel's decision. But after argument before the en banc court, new circumstances arose that caused the disqualification and recusal of one of the nine judges, leaving only eight judges in regular active service who are not disqualified in this en banc case. Due to this late recusal, the en banc court lost its quorum. Absent a quorum, no court is authorized to transact judicial business. Accordingly, the appeal is dismissed and the lower court decision, which dismissed the action for lack of standing, is reinstated.

[A prior decision in this litigation can be found at 39 ELR 20237.]