Exxon Defeated: Fraudsters Cannot Hide Behind the First Amendment

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Yesterday, a federal judge threw out Exxon’s lawsuit in which it alleged that investigations by the attorneys general of New York and Massachusetts violated the company’s free speech rights.  The AGs had been investigating Exxon for fraud and misleading its investors and consumers about climate change.

We are glad but not surprised that the judge found that the First Amendment does not give Exxon the right to prevent the right and proper investigation of their extensive and long climate deception. Judge Caproni said Exxon’s constitutional claims were “implausible.”

Knowingly deceptive statements, especially when associated with commercial activity, is subject to punishment and governmental investigation.

And we know that Exxon knew and that is was intentionally misrepresenting the causes and consequences of climate change. 

Exxon’s strategy here was a farce. It never had legitimate claims but used its case against the AGs to slow that investigation and harass activists, including individuals that ERI has been representing.

This is part of a new playbook, which draws from the old adage that a good offense is the best defense. We are seeing more and more of these tactics by companies. Chilling SLAPP/RICO lawsuits against activists, subpoenas against lawyers – some of these major oil companies will stop at nothing to continue putting profits over people.

Hopefully, this ends the harassment against those digging to find out the extent of Exxon’s deception.

The claims against the AGs are likely identical to the ones that Exxon has suggested it may file against the California cities and counties that are seeking to hold Exxon and others accountable for the climate change adaptations that taxpayers are paying for.

Documents:
Exxon NY Opinion

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