Maui Climate Change Lawsuit Against Fossil Fuel Companies Remanded Back to State Court

King tide flooding occurred at Ukumehame Beach Park in West Maui in July 2019. PC: County of Maui

A federal court ruled that it does not have jurisdiction over a lawsuit filed by Maui County against fossil fuel companies, and remanded the action back to state court.

Federal District Court Judge Derrick K. Watson made the determination yesterday in County of Maui v. Chevron. 

The County of Maui filed the lawsuit in Hawaii state court against the fossil fuel companies for costs allegedly associated with the impacts of climate change. 

Maui County contends that the suit was filed in state court “because all of the claims stem from state law.” Attorneys for the oil companies had tried to have the Maui case moved to federal court.

Judge Watson’s order explains that the claims the County “elected to pursue in these cases reveal that federal jurisdiction is lacking on the grounds advanced by Defendants,” and there is “no basis for federal jurisdiction.”

In a press release, Mayor Michael Victorino said:

“We expect this to be the first of many victories for Maui County in this case. Big Oil companies will have to answer for what they did. We hope that our case will shine a light on the causes of climate change and how Big Oil concealed that information just to make an extra buck. They must pay for the damages they are causing to our islands.”

Damage to Lower Honoapiʻilani Road can be seen in 2018. PC: County of Maui

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