Why Honolulu’s Big Oil lawsuit “is now the most important climate case in the United States”

The Hawai‘i state Supreme Court has ruled that a potentially historic lawsuit against oil companies can move forward to trial.

Date: November 2, 2023
Complete Article: ExxonKnews


A climate lawsuit filed by the City and County of Honolulu that could make oil and gas majors pay billions of dollars in damages for deceiving the public about their products’ role in climate change is now positioned to be the first of its kind to go to trial, following a ruling from the Hawai‘i Supreme Court.

Legal experts say that Honolulu’s case could set a precedent for similar climate lawsuits filed by dozens of U.S. communities and make history as the first time fossil fuel companies would have to face the evidence of a decades-long industry campaign of climate deception in court.

The court’s decision means that the case can now enter into full discovery — the phase during which plaintiffs can collect more evidence to prove their case — and a state court can finally set a date for the case to go to trial.

“This is now the most important climate case in the United States,” said former Hawai‘i Supreme Court Justice Michael Wilson, who retired earlier this year after a decade on the state’s highest court. “Now the Hawai‘i Supreme Court has allowed a jury of twelve Hawai’i citizens to decide whether lies by the oil companies created large scale billion dollar damage to our county and city of Honolulu.”

A ruling in the case could have significant implications for other climate cases across the country, said Richard Wallsgrove, a Professor of Law and Environmental Law Program Co-Director at the University of Hawai‘i.

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