Type to search

Featured Government

Municipality of San Juan sues Exxon Mobil, others for role in climate change

The Municipality of San Juan has filed a 241-page civil lawsuit against Exxon Mobil Corp. and nearly a dozen other oil and coal companies for their alleged role in climate change, which the city claims resulted in “the devastating storms of September 2017” and their aftermath.

The list of defendants also includes Chevron Corp., BP PLC, ConocoPhillips Co., Motiva Enterprises LLC, Occidental Petroleum, BHP Group Limited, Arch Resources Inc., Rio Tinto PLC, Peabody Energy Inc., and several unnamed corporations.

In the lawsuit, the Municipality of San Juan alleges that the fossil-fuel companies contributed to changes in weather patterns that led to the losses it experienced starting with the hurricanes that struck in September 2017 “and all of the ensuing impacts upon it and the island’s health, education, welfare, infrastructure and economy.”

“This complaint alleges consumer fraud, racketeering, antitrust, fraudulent misrepresentation, negligent misrepresentation, negligent fraudulent concealment, conspiracy to defraud, products liability, strict liability failure to warn, negligent failure to warn, and unjust enrichment, as a result of the devastating storms of September 2017 [hurricanes Irma and María], and the aftermath of those storms, which occurred as a result of the Defendants’ acts and omissions,” the lengthy document states.

However, the municipality stated it is not seeking damages or any relief based on any activity by the defendants or damages for future storms or “catastrophes caused by defendants’ misconduct, but just the losses that plaintiff Municipality of San Juan sustained “due to the hurricanes.”

The municipality is seeking punitive and compensatory damages in excess of $75,000 from all defendants, “jointly and severally,” it stated.

The complaint lists the destruction of San Juan’s power grid, transportation infrastructure and access to clean water, as damage the municipality suffered in the wake of the storms. A month after Hurricane María passed, emergency management services were removing 1,000 cubic yards of debris daily, and most of the city’s 342,000 residents still had no power and unstable water service, according to the lawsuit.

“The intensity of hurricanes Irma and Hurricane María increased because of climate change as accelerated by Defendants’ consumer products and conduct,” the suit states. “More severe tropical storms will occur as the climate warms, thus severely impacting and affecting the Municipality of San Juan.”

In the lawsuit, the municipality goes on to list problems associated with climate change, including rising sea levels, an overgrowth of sargassum, and damage to the coral reefs’ ecosystem.

The municipal government claims the defendants have known that “climate change would present dangerous risks to the world’s population, but particularly, the Caribbean islands,” but engaged in concerted efforts to hide those risks, “while they reaped profits by false and deceptive consumer advertising misinformation.”

The lawsuit claims the defendants did not follow best business practices to take steps “to mitigate the damages caused by their fossil fuel products.”

The case has been assigned to U.S. District Judge Aida M. Delgado-Colón.

Author Details
Author Details
Business reporter with 30 years of experience writing for weekly and daily newspapers, as well as trade publications in Puerto Rico. My list of former employers includes Caribbean Business, The San Juan Star, and the Puerto Rico Daily Sun, among others. My areas of expertise include telecommunications, technology, retail, agriculture, tourism, banking and most other segments of Puerto Rico’s economy.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *