The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals has granted California Attorney General Jerry Brown's motion to voluntarily dismiss the state's global warming lawsuit against six of the nation's largest automobile manufacturers.
The Wednesday order put an end to the lawsuit, which was the first of its kind when filed in 2006 against Chrysler, Ford, General Motors, Honda, Nissan and Toyota. The suit claimed that the companies created a public nuisance under federal common law by contributing to global warming through the emissions from their automobiles.
In September 2007, a federal judge in San Francisco dismissed the case, ruling that the issue belonged before legislators in Washington and not the courts.
Brown appealed the ruling to the 9th Circuit, but conceded on June 19 that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's recent recognition that greenhouse gases should be regulated merited dismissal. He also cited the Chapter 11 bankruptcies of General Motors and Chrysler.
"With the new administration in Washington, the rules have radically changed," said Scott Gerber, a spokesman for the Brown's office. "The EPA and the federal government are now on the side of reducing greenhouse gasses and are taking strong measures to reduce emissions from vehicles."
"They said [that] given these developments in the policy arenas, they've decided to dismiss their appeal and leave these issues for another day, which is really what we've been saying all along," said Theodore J. Boutrous Jr., a partner at Los Angeles-based Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher, who served as lead defense counsel in the case. "There's no reason to make a tort suit out of this."