National Association of Manufacturers President and CEO Jay Timmons authored a Washington Times op-ed today that detailed the commonsense reform principles recently released by the Manufacturers’ Accountability Project to end the frivolous public nuisance lawsuits against manufacturers.
Timmons writes about the growing trend of these climate lawsuits spurred on by trial lawyers looking for a big payday and the costs to manufacturers:
“Today, in courthouses across America, manufacturers are under attack. Politically-minded trial lawyers partnering with headline-seeking politicians are suing manufacturers—and using climate change as the justification. Similar frivolous lawsuits have failed in the past, but the mere possibility of a big payoff is enough to make trial lawyers keep at it. The potential costs to manufacturers, workers and our legal system are too great to let this troubling trend continue—especially since the lawsuits will do nothing to solve the global challenge of climate change in the first place.”
After outlining the reform principles—transparency, federal pre-emption and withdrawal of the lawsuits—Timmons highlights the recent dismissals of the San Francisco, Oakland and New York City lawsuits, advising municipalities with pending litigation to take note:
“After hearing the arguments, Judge William Alsup dismissed the lawsuits, ruling that the courts are not the place to address such global policy issues and that such litigation could even ‘interfere with reaching a worldwide consensus’ on addressing climate change. He questioned the very idea of blaming manufacturers when ‘all of us have benefitted’ from using fossil fuels. Municipalities still pursuing litigation should take note, withdraw their lawsuits and stop wasting time and resources. Even in the past few days, Judge Alsup’s action was quickly followed by Judge John Keenan’s dismissal of the New York lawsuit, dealing a major blow to the momentum of the effort spearheaded by Mayor Bill de Blasio to hold manufacturers accountable for climate change. It’s not an unreasonable notion to believe that the other similar suits still active may face similar fates.”
In spite of these high profile legal defeats, the City of Baltimore chose to move forward with its own climate lawsuit. Given the recent dismissals, the odds of success are not in their favor.
In a California Political Review opinion column, MAP’s Executive Director Lindsey de la Torre highlights how these types of baseless lawsuits are not confined solely to one manufacturing sector as paint companies also find themselves a target. She warns, “Californians may not know it, but their courts are creating an unprecedented ‘super tort’ that could be used against anyone that makes and sells a lawful product. Today, it is paint and tomorrow it could be you or your company.”