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Comer v. Murphy Oil USA, Inc.

ELR Citation: 43 ELR 20109
Nos. 12-60291, (5th Cir., 05/14/2013)

The Fifth Circuit affirmed a lower court decision that the doctrine of res judicata bars individuals' trespass, nuisance, and negligence claims against numerous oil, coal, electric, and chemical companies for damages stemming from Hurricane Katrina. The individuals asserted that the companies' activities are among the largest sources of greenhouse gases that cause global warming, and that global warming led to high sea surface temperatures and sea level rise that fueled Hurricane Katrina, which in turn damaged their property. They also allege that global warming has caused them to incur higher insurance premiums and has lowered the resale value of their homes, and that the defendants' emissions constitute an unreasonable invasion of the plaintiffs' property rights. But because the current lawsuit is nearly identical to the individuals' 2005 lawsuit, it is barred by res judicata.