Judge Dismisses Claims CO2 Emissions Caused Hurricane Katrina

While media carped and whined about the second anniversary of Hurricane Katrina devastating New Orleans, a judge in Gulfport, Mississippi, ruled on a lawsuit filed against oil, coal, and electric utility companies that could have significant implications on future litigation involving greenhouse gas emissions and global warming.

Unfortunately, from what I can tell, not one press outlet found the judge's decision at all newsworthy. Not one!

To set this up, NewsBusters reported on August 15 a class action lawsuit filed on behalf of a number of Mississippians claiming that the greenhouse gas emissions of a very long list of companies doing business in the Gulf exacerbated the strength of Hurricane Katrina thereby making them responsible for the citizens' financial losses.

On Friday, LexisNexis Mealey's Legal News reported (very grateful h/t NBer Par for the Course):

A federal judge on Aug. 30 rejected Mississippi residents' claims that coal, oil and chemical companies were liable for greenhouse gas emissions, which allegedly led to an increase in powerful hurricanes in the region, including Hurricane Katrina (Ned Comer, et al. v. Murphy Oil USA Inc., et al., No. 05-CV-436LG, S.D. Miss., Southern Div.).

Though I'd like to supply more information about this decision, I can find absolutely no media coverage on the subject whatsoever.

Think you would have heard about this if the judge had ruled that greenhouse gases released by these companies were to blame for Katrina's strength and size?

Yeah. I do, too.

Yet, that wasn't the only significant legal ruling on August 30 surrounding Hurricane Katrina media chose to ignore, for at virtually the same time in New Orleans, a federal court sided with a major insurance company regarding disaster claims.

As reported by the SunHerald (emphasis added):

A federal appeals court sided with Nationwide Mutual Insurance Co. on Thursday in a landmark Hurricane Katrina case.

The 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans ruled that language in the insurer's storm policy that was used to deny coverage is not "ambiguous."

"The reason the term ambiguous is important in insurance matters is because ambiguity in insurance contracts is almost universally decided in favor of the policyholder," said Robert Hartwig, vice president and chief economist for the Insurance Information Institute in New York. "But what the panel is saying here is that it is not ambiguous, that it is quite clear."

That's exactly the ruling Nationwide wanted.

Didn't hear about this ruling, either? Think you might have if the court ruled differently? Get the feeling that we'll only hear about rulings in this region supporting the media meme that all companies are evil, greedy entities focused on stealing from innocents to line their wallets?

Yeah. I do, too.

Noel Sheppard
Noel Sheppard
Noel Sheppard, Associate Editor of NewsBusters, passed away in March of 2014.