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Appeals Court to revisit Katrina lawsuit

JACKSON — A federal appeals court has agreed to review a three-judge panel’s ruling that a group of Mississippi coastal landowners can sue energy and chemical companies claiming their greenhouse gas emissions contributed to global warming, caused sea levels to rise and added to the intensity of Hurricane Katrina.

The 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals Feb. 26 granted a petition from the energy and chemical companies for a review by the full court of the panel’s decision.

The court said the case would be scheduled for oral argument the week of May 24. It gave attorneys for both sides until April 30 to file briefs in the case.

The lawsuit was filed by the landowners in U.S. District Court in Gulfport in September 2005, about a month after Katrina ravaged the Gulf Coast. U.S. District Judge Louis Guirola Jr. dismissed the lawsuit in 2007.

The families appealed to the 5th Circuit. The three-judge panel’s ruling last October reinstated the lawsuit.

The panel said the landowners had shown they had suffered an injury that could be traced back to the energy and chemical companies. The landowners had sought compensatory and punitive damages against 32 companies and the Tennessee Valley Authority.

In their petition for a review by the full 5th Circuit, the companies argued that global warming was not attributable only to them but resulted from the emissions of greenhouse gases from millions of sources dating back to the Industrial Revolution.

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