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October 20, 2009

Power Companies Sued for Causing Katrina

Posted by Van Helsing at October 20, 2009 8:56 AM

After all the wasted taxpayer $billions, the Katrina free money bonanza isn't over. Pathologically greedy lawyers are laying the groundwork to sue everyone in sight for causing the hurricane by emitting CO2.

The suit was brought by landowners in Mississippi, who claim that oil and coal companies emitted greenhouse gasses that contributed to global warming that, in turn, caused a rise in sea levels, adding to Hurricane Katrina's ferocity.
For a nice overview of the ruling, and its significance in the climate change battle, check out this blog post by J. Russell Jackson, a Skadden Arps partner who specializes in mass tort litigation. The post likens the Katrina plaintiffs' claims, which set out a chain of causation, to the litigation equivalent of "Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon."
The central question before the Fifth Circuit was whether the plaintiffs had standing, or whether they could demonstrate that their injuries were "fairly traceable" to the defendant's actions. The defendants predictably assert that the link is "too attenuated."
But the Fifth Circuit held that at this preliminary stage in the litigation, the plaintiffs had sufficiently detailed their claims to earn a day in court.
In so holding, the court notably quoted a recent Supreme Court opinion that "accepted as plausible the link between man-made greenhouse gas emissions and global warming" along with the fact that "rising ocean temperatures may contribute to the ferocity of hurricanes."

If the campaign to use preposterous pseudoscience to sue over CO2 emissions takes hold, our civilization will literally loot itself to death. There is no human activity, including breathing, that does not produce this utterly harmless gas.

Meanwhile, other warmists attempt to explain the dearth of severe hurricanes recently by claiming that the nonexistent global warming phenomenon actually suppresses hurricanes. Scientific reality is now reinvented on a regular basis so as to facilitate looting sprees and power grabs.

The looting continues to this day.

On a tip from Lyle.


I admit it, I did it. If I could just kick my breathing habit maybe Katrina would have never happened. Does anybody have the number of that ecopsyhcologist from the other posting? I got some guilt to lose.

Posted by: Frank W at October 20, 2009 9:17 AM

Mississippi law provides for modified joint and several liability up to half of the plaintiff's damages.

For those of you unfamiliar with the issues related to tort reform, the legal concept of joint and several liability allows the plaintiff to recover his damages from any at fault defendant, without regard to a specific defendant's proportional share of fault. Defendants who pay more than their share of damages then recover said overage from their joint tortfeasors.

There is a famous example of this which occurred on the bumper cars at one of Disney's parks. A man rear-ended his fiance too hard, which caused injury to her. The jury split damages among the three parties in this manner: the man responsible for the vast majority for causing the accident, the plaintiff responsible for a small minority due to her voluntary use of the ride, and 1% of fault to Disney, for some nebulous reason.

Since the man was unable to pay the judgment, and Disney's fault was 1%, Disney was forced to pay its share plus the man's, thanks to joint and several liability. The recovery to the plaintiff was the full amount minus her small percentage of fault, and it came entirely from a defendant who was only 1% at fault.

Apply this to the global warming scam:

1. Ambulance chasers find injured plaintiff in lawsuit friendly state.
2. Ambulance chasers blame worldwide global warming for untold billions of dollars in damages.
3. Ambulance chasers find CO2 emitter subject to the jurisdiction of a friendly court.
4. Ambulance chasers blame CO2 emitter for a minute fraction of global CO2 emissions, then force them to pick up the tab for the entirety of the claimed damage.

Posted by: Anonymous Countermoonbat at October 20, 2009 9:29 AM

What are the chances that some of these very same litigants bitched about the power being out while the grid was being restored? Are they living without electrical power now to further their theory and spare themselves future anguish?

Posted by: joe buzz at October 20, 2009 9:30 AM

If this angers you, contact your state legislators and demand that joint and several liability be repealed except in cases where the tortfeasors conspired to commit an intentional tort (for example, a plan to assault someone). Basically, intentional torts are actions where the injury was the desired result or the entire purpose of the conspiracy. Intentional torts do not include of negligence and product liability, which are the theories used in most of the frivolous lawsuits.

Posted by: Anonymous Countermoonbat at October 20, 2009 9:35 AM

Only in Mississippi. There are whole areas of this state without drugstores/pharmacies. Why? Because the trial lawyers needed a local store when they did their big pharma class actions suits. There was a 60 minutes episode on this a few years past.

This is the same thing, just different companies being sued. Get Joe illiterate and his friends on the jury to give whomever large sums of cash.

Posted by: Stephana at October 20, 2009 9:36 AM

They make some good points over at on this. Here’s their quote:

“At first blush, this looks like just another meaningless and hysterical law suit, but, think about this for a moment. The plaintiffs are going to have to provide actual, factual, relevant, and meaningful evidence, and actually debate the merits of man made global warming in the public eye. The defense will be able to provide relevant, factual, and meaningful evidence, such as the “no warming in the last 10 years” information, all in the public eye. If the climahysteric plaintiffs lose, this could be a major slap in the face for the AGW movement.

Al Gore has been challenged to debate after debate after debate, yet, refuses to engage in one. The Washington Posts’ Andrew Freeman chickened out on a debate with Climate Depot’s Marc Morano. The US Chamber of Commerce called for a climate trial, and, rather than anyone taking them up on it, they were demonized. Lord Monckton has offered to debate any climate alarmist, and none will take him on. Perhaps this trial will shed some reality on the situation, and finally put to rest the notion of anthropogenic climate change. Until they bring it back up in a few years, of course.”

My take is that at first I was aghast at this ruling, but I think this make some very good and astute points. Yes please, let us finally get this into the public sphere for all to see. The only thing I fear is that either a judge or jury will use nullification and still stick it to the oil and coal companies...

Posted by: Fuzzlenutter at October 20, 2009 9:53 AM

I'll have to hide the Times-Picayune from my husband -- if he reads about the Fifth Circuit's "Fantasy Lawsuit" ruling, his head may explode.

Isn't this type of frivolous fishing-expedition lawsuit precisely what summary judgment is supposed to cure? Is the lower court seriously going to rule that plaintiffs stand a chance of prevailing on the merits?

At least it's not in the Ninth Circuit.

Posted by: MoogieP at October 20, 2009 10:18 AM

Actually, this may have started in Mississippi, but it has national implications. This is the Fifth Circuit in New Orleans which is a (normally relatively conservative) federal court.

Also, it may be easy to blame "Joe Illiterate" in MS, but "Joe Illiterate" resides in every state of the union. He's even employed by the news media. Have you noticed the grammar (or lack thereof) in print and broadcast media?

So, it's easy for lawyers to find 12 JI's no matter where in the country they may be stirring up trouble.

Q: What's the difference between trial lawyer John Edwards and a catfish?

A: One's a scum-sucking, garbage-eating, bottom dweller, and the other is a fish.

Posted by: Lyle at October 20, 2009 10:21 AM

Katrina exploded in strength because an eddy from the warm, deep-water Loop Current happened to be hanging around just off the coast at the time. Hurricanes cause an ocean phenomenon known as upwelling, where as the storm "feeds" off the warm surface water, water deeper (and generally cooler) in the ocean is drawn to the surface. Note that this is why if a hurricane stalls in one spot too long for whatever reason, it typically diminishes in intensity. Katrina rumbled along and upwelled this pocket of warm water, which, along with a favorable upper-air development environment, allowed the hurricane to go from a category 3 to a category 5 in under 12 hours.

Having the eye of a hurricane of any intensity hit you is just (non-)luck of the draw, just that past hurricanes of comparable intensity didn't hit cities built below sea level.

Posted by: I'm A Lasagna Hog at October 20, 2009 10:22 AM

Luck has nothing to do with lawyer logic in states which have not passed tort reform. If the power companies are in any way "responsible" for a hurricane, then they pay out, go bankrupt, and get nationalized.

Posted by: Anonymous Countermoonbat at October 20, 2009 10:33 AM

I don't get it.
In the movies, leading the rescue from global disaster, there's always a brilliant, beautiful 18-year old female scientist with an equally-brilliant, young-but-hard-as-nails handsome black male assistant.
And the villain that caused it all is a fat, old, rich evil white guy who looks like Al Gore.

And F'n CO2? you can't even see?

We got severely punked on this global warming thing.

Posted by: Fiberal at October 20, 2009 10:33 AM

Poetic justive to these law suits would be for the power companies to shut down their production for an extended period. No carbon, no power. Let the litigants chew on that. EPA too.

Posted by: czekmark at October 20, 2009 11:05 AM

Looting the country to the bone, that sums it all. Let the feeding frenzy begin, not only will the industry be choked by EPA regulations, watch the trial lawyers drive everything to the ground.

Posted by: Jay B at October 20, 2009 11:23 AM

The largest greenhouse gas isnt CO2 its, H2O - water vapor. Cool the Earth by installing giant atmospheric condensers to suck the moisture out of the air. Problem solved.

Posted by: Mousey Tongue at October 20, 2009 11:25 AM

Another frivolous lawsuit broght by the law firms of BUZZARD,VULTURE,SHARK,SNAKE,SLUG,HYNAH, & JACKLE more reasons why we need serious tort reform

Posted by: SPURWING PLOVER at October 20, 2009 11:49 AM

I'm with fuzzle on this one. This may in fact be an opportunity to get street cred with the sad cases who believe in AGW.
In UK they had Gore's weepie in the High Court, which found a scad of serious errors. Now this.
A court case does not establish science fact, but it does play an important role in the brain-dead MSM.
That 1% bothers me though. What a screwball legal system! Is it a carryover from the centuries old legal theories of partnership -the rich old partner, living in the country with MS paid all the damages?

Posted by: Jim at October 20, 2009 1:27 PM

Why does the black guy in the picture look like an ape? Either you are racist for modifying the picture to make him look like an ape, or I am a racist for saying he looks like an ape even when the picture wasn't actually modified. I am now reporting this blog to the obama justice department to be shut down for hate speech.

Posted by: Frank White at October 20, 2009 1:48 PM

I think that possessing a law degree should disqualify you from running for Congress.

A huge reason why the country is such a frigging mess is because the laws are written by lawyers, for lawyers. No legal reforms will ever happen as long as Congress is 98% lawyers.

Posted by: ent at October 20, 2009 1:49 PM

Kill all the lawyers first.

Posted by: Shakespeare at October 20, 2009 2:10 PM

Bush had a black-ops team blow up the levees to flood the poor black parts of NOLA. There is even photographic and physical evidence to prove it.

Posted by: hey you guys at October 20, 2009 3:40 PM

Bush had a black-ops team blow up the levees to flood the poor black parts of NOLA. There is even photographic and physical evidence to prove it.

Posted by: hey you guys at October 20, 2009 3:40 PM

He's right. I put that damn team together.

Posted by: Al Gore at October 20, 2009 6:03 PM

...does this mean it's not Bush's fault anymore?

Posted by: Anon at October 20, 2009 6:15 PM


Posted by: Flu-Bird at October 20, 2009 9:34 PM

I've been emitting CO2 for 61 years and want to be acknowledged as a co-defendant.

Posted by: David at October 21, 2009 9:54 AM

This is a trial-bubble for suing the power companies out of existence.

This is how the takeover is proceeding:
1. Create unviable conditions for what ever huge segment of the economy you want to seize.
2. Declare and emergency and demand a trillion or so new dollars be printed out of your back pocket.
3. Pass illegal legislation that nobody reads, nobody cares what's in there, and nobody will care about when real adults point out the obvious problems.
4. Tell everyone when your scheme transparently fails to produce jobs or whatever that the problem was already beyond solvable when you took over and gosh, we'll just try harder.
5. Go to another country and pretend they like you there. Pick up meaningless prize.
6. Slap VP for opening his mouth again.

Simple as that!!

Posted by: Philistine at October 21, 2009 1:49 PM

I am not a lawyer, but I do watch them on TV. It seems to me that this is a really rather minor ruling. The decision is based on standing, not on merits. At this stage of the case, the court basically pretends that everything contained in the plaintiffs case is true as presented. The judge then asks two questions: 1. If everything said here is true, do the plaintiffs have the right to sue? and 2. If everything they say is true, does this constitute enough evidence that a tort has been committed.

This decision was based solely on question 1. At least the concurrent opinion leaves open the fact that the suit could still be dismissed at the pleadings stage on the basis of question 2.

I think that this case will sink on the basis of "but-for" and proximate cause. Since there is clear and ample evidence that hurricanes struck the area before the defendant entities acted, or indeed existed, it should be next to impossible to prove that Katrina would not have occurred but for the actions of the defendants. The second line of causation is that the defendants' actions made the hurricane more intense than it would have been otherwise.

This is where you will get the dueling "experts" and the chain of causation theories, which should create one heck of a Daubert hearing, as to whether the "science" of computer modeling can be assumed to be generally accepted within the scientific community.

Finally, there is the whole damages question, to wit even if the hurricane was made some fractional amount stronger, what effect did this have on the damages suffered by the defendants? That is, if Katrina had 97 mile an hour winds would your house have survived intact while the 100 mile an hour winds have destroyed it totally?

Posted by: Another Guy Named Dan at October 22, 2009 8:19 AM

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