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Mayor of Baltimore v. BP P.L.C.

United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit

December 11, 2019, Argued; March 6, 2020, Decided

No. 19-1644

Opinion

 [*456]  FLOYD, [**6]  Circuit Judge:

This appeal is about whether a climate-change lawsuit against oil and gas companies  [*457]  belongs in federal court. But this decision is only about whether one path to federal court lies open. Because 28 U.S.C. § 1447(d) confines our appellate jurisdiction, the narrow question before us is whether removal of this lawsuit is proper under 28 U.S.C. § 1442, commonly referred to as the federal officer removal statute. And because we conclude that § 1442 does not provide a proper basis for removal, we affirm the district court's remand order.

In July 2018, the Mayor and City of Baltimore ("Baltimore") filed suit in Maryland state court against twenty-six multinational oil and gas companies ("Defendants") that it says are partly responsible for climate change.1 According to Baltimore, Defendants substantially contributed to climate change by producing, promoting, and (misleadingly) marketing fossil fuel products long after learning the dangers associated with them. Specifically, Baltimore alleges that, despite knowing about the direct link between fossil fuel use and global warming for nearly fifty years, Defendants have engaged in a "coordinated, multi-front effort" to conceal that knowledge; have tried to discredit the [**7]  growing body of publicly available scientific evidence by championing sophisticated disinformation campaigns; and have actively attempted to undermine public support for regulation of their business practices, all while promoting the unrestrained and expanded use of their fossil fuel products. See J.A. 43-47. As a result of Defendants' conduct, Baltimore avers that it has suffered various "climate change-related injuries," J.A. 92, including an increase in sea levels, storms, floods, heatwaves, droughts, and extreme precipitation. So Baltimore sued Defendants to shift some of the costs of these injuries on to them.

The Complaint asserts eight causes of action, all founded on Maryland law: public and private nuisance (Counts I—II); strict liability for failure to warn and design defect (Counts III—IV); negligent design defect and failure to warn (Counts V—VI); trespass (Count VII); and violations of the Maryland Consumer Protection Act, Md. Code, Com. Law §§ 13-101 to 13-501 (Count VIII). As relief, Baltimore seeks monetary damages, civil penalties, and equitable relief. It does not "seek to impose liability on Defendants for their direct emissions of greenhouse gases" or to "restrain Defendants from engaging in their business [**8]  operations." J.A. 47.

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952 F.3d 452 *; 2020 U.S. App. LEXIS 7083 **; 50 ELR 20051; 2020 WL 1069444

MAYOR AND CITY COUNCIL OF BALTIMORE, Plaintiff — Appellee, v. BP P.L.C.; BP AMERICA, INC.; BP PRODUCTS NORTH AMERICA, INC.; CROWN CENTRAL LLC; CROWN CENTRAL NEW HOLDINGS LLC; CHEVRON CORP.; CHEVRON U.S.A. INC.; EXXON MOBIL CORP.; EXXONMOBIL OIL CORPORATION; ROYAL DUTCH SHELL, PLC; SHELL OIL COMPANY; CITGO PETROLEUM CORP.; CONOCOPHILLIPS; CONOCOPHILLIPS COMPANY; PHILLIPS 66; MARATHON OIL COMPANY; MARATHON OIL CORPORATION; MARATHON PETROLEUM CORPORATION; SPEEDWAY LLC; HESS CORP.; CNX RESOURCES CORPORATION; CONSOL ENERGY, INC.; CONSOL MARINE TERMINALS LLC, Defendants — Appellants, and LOUISIANA LAND & EXPLORATION CO.; PHILLIPS 66 COMPANY; CROWN CENTRAL PETROLEUM CORPORATION, Defendants.CHAMBER OF COMMERCE OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Amicus Supporting Appellants. NATIONAL LEAGUE OF CITIES; U.S. CONFERENCE OF MAYORS; INTERNATIONAL MUNICIPAL LAWYERS ASSOCIATION; PUBLIC CITIZEN, INC.; SHELDON WHITEHOUSE; EDWARD J. MARKEY; STATE OF MARYLAND; STATE OF CALIFORNIA; STATE OF CONNECTICUT; STATE OF NEW JERSEY; STATE OF NEW YORK; STATE OF OREGON; STATE OF RHODE ISLAND; STATE OF VERMONT; STATE OF WASHINGTON; MARIO J. MOLINA; MICHAEL OPPENHEIMER; BOB KOPP; FRIEDERIKE OTTO; SUSANNE C. MOSER; DONALD J. WUEBBLES; GARY GRIGGS; PETER C. FRUMHOFF; KRISTINA DAHL; NATURAL RESOURCES DEFENSE COUNCIL; ROBERT BRULLE; CENTER FOR CLIMATE INTEGRITY; CHESAPEAKE CLIMATE ACTION NETWORK; JUSTIN FARRELL; BEN FRANTA; STEPHAN LEWANDOWSKY; NAOMI ORESKES; GEOFFREY SUPRAN; UNION OF CONCERNED SCIENTISTS, Amici Supporting Appellee.

Subsequent History: Petition for certiorari filed at, 03/31/2020

Prior History:  [**1] Appeal from the United States District Court for the District of Maryland, at Baltimore. 1:18-cv-02357-ELH. Ellen L. Hollander, District Judge.

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

Disposition: AFFIRMED.

CORE TERMS

oil, fuel, fossil, leases, contractors, prong, manufactured, extracted, boilers, climate, entity, compliance, quotation, Chemical, barrels, conceal, color

Civil Procedure, Preliminary Considerations, Removal, Elements for Removal, Postremoval Remands, Appellate Review, Appeals, Standards of Review, De Novo Review, Governments, Legislation, Interpretation, Specific Cases Removed, Cases Involving Federal Officers