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Exxon loses bid to revive lawsuit over Mass. and New York climate change probes

In this April 23, 2018, file photo, the logo for ExxonMobil appears above a trading post on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange.Richard Drew/Associated Press

Exxon Mobil Corp. lost its bid to revive a 2016 lawsuit claiming New York and Massachusetts were motivated by so-called viewpoint discrimination when they opened state investigations of the energy giant’s public statements on climate change.

Exxon’s claims against New York Attorney General Letitia James, dismissed in 2018, are moot because she closed her probe after losing a landmark lawsuit against the company in 2019, the U.S. Court of Appeals in Manhattan ruled Tuesday. The claims against Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey also fail because Exxon could have brought them in a related state-court case, the appellate court held.

Exxon wanted to revive the case so it could seek the return or destruction of documents that the company gave New York during the investigation. It also sought an injunction directing New York “to curtail the policies that led to the issuance of the offensive subpoenas in the first place,” according to the ruling. But the court held such relief wasn’t warranted.


“Exxon has not alleged any facts to suggest continuing harms from the now-ceased investigation and resolved enforcement action, and the alternative relief that it seeks could only address entirely hypothetical future harms,” the court said in its ruling.

While New York’s investigation and litigation with Exxon is over, Massachusetts is still pursuing a wide-ranging lawsuit accusing the energy company of misleading investors and consumers about the impact of climate change on its business and products. A judge in 2021 denied Exxon’s motion to dismiss the suit.

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