Case Now Proceeds in State Court
The federal district court in Burlington has granted the Attorney General’s motion to return the State’s consumer protection case against Exxon and other fossil fuel producers to state court. Using the Vermont Consumer Protection Act, the Attorney General’s Office sued Exxon and others for misrepresentations and greenwashing related to fossil fuel products. The case had been stalled shortly after it was filed in September 2021 due to this dispute over jurisdiction – whether it belonged in state or federal court. Tuesday’s remand order will allow the State’s claims to proceed to the next stage of litigation in state court.
“Vermonters deserve to know the truth about fossil fuel products as they make consumer choices,” said Attorney General Charity Clark. “This case seeks to hold accountable fossil fuel companies that misrepresented their products and hid information from the public.”
The Attorney General’s case alleges that these companies concealed and misrepresented the connection between their products and climate change, which denied Vermont consumers the opportunity to make informed and different decisions regarding fossil fuel purchases. The State seeks to prevent the companies from engaging in further deception and to rectify past deception, civil penalties, and to make the companies relinquish the profit they made as a result of their false advertising.
The State filed the case in Chittenden Superior Court in September 2021 and the fossil fuel defendants removed the case to federal court, arguing the claims were governed by federal law. However, as the federal court noted, Vermont’s case is “a two-count consumer protection action claiming deceptive and unfair practices that took place exclusively within the State of Vermont.” The court also recognized that Vermont’s case is in good company with cases brought by other state and local governments claiming that fossil fuel companies promoted their products while concealing their climate change impacts.
The Remand Order from the federal district court is available here.
CONTACT: Lauren Jandl, Chief of Staff, 802-828-3171