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Mayor & City Council of Baltimore v. BP P.L.C.

United States District Court for the District of Maryland

June 20, 2019, Decided; June 20, 2019, Filed

Civil Action No. ELH-18-2357

Opinion

 [*548]  MEMORANDUM OPINION

In this Memorandum [**6]  Opinion, the Court determines whether a suit concerning climate change was properly removed from a Maryland state court to federal court.

The Mayor and City Council of Baltimore (the "City") filed suit in the Circuit Court for Baltimore City against twenty-six multinational oil and gas companies. See ECF 42 (Complaint). The City alleges that defendants have substantially contributed to greenhouse gas pollution, global warming, and climate change by extracting, producing, promoting, refining, distributing, and selling fossil fuel products (i.e., coal, oil, and natural gas), while simultaneously deceiving consumers and the public about the dangers associated with those products. Id. ¶¶ 1-8. As a result of such conduct, the City claims that it has sustained and will sustain "climate change-related injuries." Id. ¶ 102. According to the City, the injuries from "[a]nthropogenic (human-caused) greenhouse gas pollution," id. ¶ 3, include a rise in sea level along Maryland's coast, as well as an increase in storms, floods, heatwaves, drought, extreme precipitation, and other conditions. Id. ¶ 8.

The Complaint asserts eight causes of action, all founded on Maryland law: public nuisance (Count [**7]  I); private nuisance (Count II); strict liability for failure to warn (Count III); strict liability for design defect (Count IV); negligent design defect (Count V); negligent failure to warn (Count VI); trespass (Count VII); and violations of the Maryland Consumer Protection Act, Md. Code (2013 Repl. Vol., 2019 Supp.), Com. Law §§ 13-101 to 13-501 (Count VIII). Id. ¶¶ 218-98. The City seeks monetary damages, civil penalties, and equitable relief. Id.

Two of the defendants, Chevron Corp. and Chevron U.S.A., Inc. (collectively, "Chevron"), timely removed the case to  [*549]  this Court. ECF 1 (Notice of Removal).1 Asserting a battery of grounds for removal, Chevron underscores that the case concerns "global emissions" (id. at 3) with "uniquely federal interests" (id. at 6) that implicate "bedrock federal-state divisions of responsibility[.]" Id. at 3.

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388 F. Supp. 3d 538 *; 2019 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 103938 **; 86 ERC (BNA) 6976; 2019 WL 2568419

MAYOR AND CITY COUNCIL OF BALTIMORE, Plaintiff, v. BP P.L.C., et al., Defendants.

Prior History: Mayor of Baltimore v. BP P.L.C., 2019 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 97438 (D. Md., June 10, 2019)

CORE TERMS

preemption, admiralty, nuisance, enclaves, preempted, fuel, climate, fossil, vessel, oil, Air, well-pleaded, navigable, global, pollution, maritime, stemming, colorable, emissions, Outer, environmental, consumers, nexus, predecessor, proximately, extraction, displaced, warming, appurtenances, manufactured

Civil Procedure, Subject Matter Jurisdiction, Jurisdiction Over Actions, Limited Jurisdiction, Jurisdiction, Federal Questions, Constitutional Law, Removal, Specific Cases Removed, Postremoval Remands, Jurisdictional Defects, Procedural Matters, Notice of Removal, Preliminary Considerations, Removal, Exclusive Federal Jurisdiction, Federal Questions, Substantial Questions, Well Pleaded Complaint Rule, Supremacy Clause, Federal Preemption, Evidence, Inferences & Presumptions, Presumptions, Rebuttal of Presumptions, Actions Against Foreign States, Environmental Law, Air Quality, Enforcement, Citizen Suits, Civil Actions, Congressional Duties & Powers, District of Columbia & Federal Property, Subject Matter Jurisdiction, Torts, Conflict of Law, Place of Injury, Jurisdictional Sources, Statutory Sources, Governments, Federal Government, Property, Cases Involving Federal Officers, Bankruptcy Law, Federal District Courts, Bankruptcy Related Claims, Removal to District Court, Scope of Stay, Exceptions to Stay, Police & Regulatory Actions, Admiralty & Maritime Law, Practice & Procedure, Constitutional Authority, The Judiciary, Maritime Jurisdiction, Maritime Personal Injuries, Maritime Tort Actions, Maritime Personal Injuries