February 20, 2024

Mayor Johnson, City Of Chicago Sues Oil And Gas Companies For Climate Deception

Taxpayer protection, climate justice at heart of complaint.

Mayor's Press Office    312.744.3334

CHICAGO – Mayor Brandon Johnson today announced that the City of Chicago is suing six oil and gas corporations and their largest trade association for deceiving Chicago consumers about the climate dangers associated with their products.  Filed in the Circuit Court of Cook County, the complaint names BP, Chevron, ConocoPhillips, Exxon Mobil, Phillips 66, Shell, and the American Petroleum Institute as Defendants. 


“There is no justice without accountability,” said Mayor Johnson. “From the unprecedented poor air quality that we experienced last summer to the basement floodings that our residents on the West Side experienced, the consequences of this crisis are severe, as are the costs of surviving them. That is why we are seeking to hold these Defendants accountable.” 


The complaint details the history of Defendants’ knowledge and deception around their products’ role in causing climate change and alleges ten separate causes of action, including: Failure to Warn, Negligence, Public Nuisance, Civil Conspiracy, Unjust Enrichment, and violations of Chicago’s municipal codes concerning Consumer Fraud and Misrepresentations in Connection with Sale or Advertisement of Merchandise. 


“Evidence shows that these Defendants intentionally misled Chicago residents about the climate change-related dangers associated with their oil and gas products.  If unabated, climate change could result in catastrophic impacts on our city,” said Corporation Counsel Mary Richardson-Lowry.  “We bring this lawsuit to ensure that the Defendants who have profited from the deception campaign bear responsibility for their conduct.”


“These companies knowingly deceived Chicago consumers in their endless pursuit of profits,” said Alderman Matt Martin.  “As a result of their conduct, Chicago is enduring extreme heat and precipitation, flooding, sewage flows into Lake Michigan, damage to city infrastructure, and more.  That all comes with enormous costs.  But both the facts, and the law, are on our side, and we intend to shift those costs back where they belong: on the companies whose deceptive conduct brought us the climate crisis.” 


The nearly 200-page complaint details a myriad of climate change-related damages Chicago has incurred, and will continue to incur, because of Defendants’ conduct.  It seeks relief in the form of compensatory and loss-of-use damages, penalties and fines for statutory violations, disgorgement of profits, and enjoining the Defendants from engaging in the deceptive and unfair acts and practices alleged in the lawsuit, as well as associated fees, interest, and other relief as deemed appropriate by the jury at trial. 


“I applaud Mayor Johnson for his leadership in filing this lawsuit today,” added Angela Tovar, Chief Sustainability Officer and Commissioner of Chicago’s revived Department of the Environment.   Science and the lived experience of our residents tell us that climate crisis disproportionately impacts under-resourced communities and exacerbates racial inequities. While we must take every action to mitigate the impacts of climate change going forward, today’s lawsuit is about accountability for past behavior, and who should pay for the dire consequences of the climate crisis that Chicago, and the world, are already dealing with.”