Big oil is behind conspiracy to deceive public, first climate racketeering lawsuit says
The same racketeering legislation used to bring down mob bosses, motorcycle gangs, football executives and international fraudsters is to be tested against oil and coal companies who are accused of conspiring to deceive the public over the climate crisis.
In an ambitious move, an attempt will be made to hold the fossil fuel industry accountable for “decades of deception” in a lawsuit being brought by communities in Puerto Rico that were devastated by Hurricane Maria in 2017.
“Puerto Rico is one of the most affected places by climate change in the world. It is so precariously positioned – they get hit on all fronts with hurricanes, storm surge, heat, coral bleaching – it’s the perfect place for this climate litigation,” said Melissa Sims, senior counsel for the plaintiffs’ law firm Milberg.
The 1970 Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (Rico) Act was originally intended to combat criminal enterprises like the mafia, but has since been used in civil courts to litigate harms caused by opioids, vehicle emissions and even e-cigarettes as organised crime cases.