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Massachusetts, Commonwealth of v. Exxon Mobil Corp.

ELR Citation: 50 ELR 20136
Nos. 19-12430-WGY, (D. Mass., 05/28/2020) (Young, J.)

A district court remanded back to state court Massachusetts' consumer protection lawsuit concerning an oil company's accounting of climate change risks. The state argued that the company misled and deceived its investors and consumers about the climate risks of fossil fuel products, and moved to remand the suit back to state court. The company asserted four potential grounds for federal jurisdiction: complete preemption, embedded federal question, federal officer removal, and the Class Action Fairness Act (CAFA). The court found the state's complaint pled state law claims that were not completely preempted because nothing about them implicated uniquely federal interests, and that did not harbor an embedded federal question because Massachusetts relied exclusively on mundane theories of fraud without seeking to hold the company liable for any actual impacts of global warming. Further, the federal officer removal statute and the CAFA did not apply because the company's marketing and sale tactics were not plausibly related to the drilling and production activities allegedly done under the direction of the federal government and the state's complaint was not a class action under the CAFA. It therefore allowed the state's motion to remand the suit back to state court.