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News
September 22, 2009

U.S. Chamber: Second Circuit Decision on Public Nuisance Doctrine an Alarming Reversal of Established Precedent

Statement of Lisa A. Rickard, president of the U.S. Chamber Institute for Legal Reform, on the Second Circuit’s decision in Connecticut v. American Electric Power upholding public nuisance claims in climate change litigation:

“We are deeply troubled that the Second Circuit has chosen to ignore well-settled law and allowed the plaintiffs’ lawyers’ novel public nuisance claims to proceed.

For the better part of the decade, key players within the plaintiffs’ bar have been aggressively advancing a twisted use of the public nuisance legal theory – an 800-year-old legal concept historically applied to unreasonable interference with public rights – as an avenue for new mass tort litigation to address issues not designed for judicial resolution. While courts have rightly repudiated this flawed legal scheme, America’s lawsuit industry needs only one precedent-setting victory to open up a public nuisance can of worms.

Unfortunately, the Second Circuit’s decision to allow public nuisance claims to proceed against businesses for their contributions to global warming may be just the break the trial lawyers need to press ahead with their liability expanding crusade. If this decision is allowed to reverse the judicial trend, it will help further line the pockets of trial lawyers, but it will come at the expense of virtually every U.S. consumer and employer.”

ILR seeks to promote civil justice reform through legislative, political, judicial, and educational activities at the national, state, and local levels.

The U.S. Chamber is the world’s largest business federation representing more than 3 million businesses and organizations of every size, sector, and region.

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