A three-judge panel at the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans on Tuesday dismissed a lawsuit that alleges carbon dioxide emissions by several power companies contributed to global warming that intensified Hurricane Katrina.
The 5th Circuit in 2009 heard a suit (Comer v. Murphy Oil USA) with similar allegations that was filed by the same group of Mississippi Gulf Coast residents and property owners. A panel of the federal court had then reversed a federal district court’s dismissal, finding that the plaintiffs had standing to bring their claims. But before a mandate could be issued, six of the nine unrecused appellate court judges (seven of the court’s 16 judges were recused) voted for rehearing en banc (with the full bench of judges).
Before rehearing, however, an additional judge was recused from the case, and the 5th Circuit determined that it lacked more than half of the court’s judges, as required for an en banc rehearing. The appellate court dismissed the appeal, and the Supreme Court later denied a petition to rehear the case.
On Tuesday, the three-judge panel at the 5th Circuit dismissed the new case (Ned Comer, et al. v. Murphy Oil USA, Inc., et al.), upholding an April 2012 ruling by the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Mississippi that the doctrine of res judicata barred the petitioners’ claims. The doctrine of res judicata essentially bars the same parties from suing again for the same claims after a final judgment has been issued.
“The same group of Gulf Coast residents and property owners … filed what they concede are essentially several of the same claims against many of the same energy companies … in the same district court,” wrote Judge Stephen Higginson.
Sources: POWERnews, USCA5
—Sonal Patel, Senior Writer (@POWERmagazine, @sonalcpatel)
NOTE: This story was originally published on May 15