Energy companies prepare for Katrina litigation onslaught

US-based oil, coal and utility companies are preparing to defend hefty lawsuits as trial attorneys in the world’s most litigious society launch class actions to sue over global warming.

A New Orleans-based plaintiffs’ attorney who had his house destroyed by Hurricane Katrina has filed a class action in the federal court of Gulport, Mississippi on behalf of neighbours who also had their homes ruined.

The defendants are a raft of oil and gas and power-generating utility companies including the likes of Chevron, Exxon Mobil, American Electric Power and others.

Hunton & Williams, Jones Day, and Sidley Austin have all been recruited to co-ordinate defence efforts for a group of utility companies.

Mississippi residents and trial attorneys Gerald Maples and Timothy Porter argue that since Katrina was given devastating strength from unusually warm Gulf water, and global warming could have caused those warm weather conditions, companies that pollute the atmosphere should be held liable.

“To me, Katrina was a clear result of irresponsible behavior by the carbon-emissions corporate economy,” Maples was reported as saying in US press.

“This is a heartfelt effort,” he said. “I don’t want to leave this global warming mess to my children.”