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Getting Back to Basics: Why Nuisance Claims Are of Limited Value in Shifting the Costs of Climate Change

March 2009

Citation: 39 ELR 10218

Issue: 3

Author: Jim Gitzlaff

Editors' Summary

Climate change is a global problem to which everyone contributes and from which everyone suffers in unequal proportions. Therefore, common-law nuisance is not a strong theory for plaintiffs to use to shift their costs because any victim's private interests will be widely shared. Should the alleged injuries suffered by these disparate people be subject to private damages suits, and how much interference with strategic industries are we willing to tolerate? Clearly there comes a point where so many people are interested in the outcome that a political solution is preferred over a judicial one. Nuisance claims mistakenly take the analysis in precisely the wrong direction.

Jim Gitzlaff is Senior Counsel, Grippo & Elden, LLC, Chicago, Illinois.

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