Environmental Liability

While I have long predicted (refer here) the possibility of litigation against directors and officers of public companies concerning global climate change-related disclosures, to date the lawsuits have not materialized. Which is not to say that there have not been relevant developments – to the contrary, there have been many, as discussed below. There

In order to assign responsibility in connection with the enforcement of public welfare objectives, courts have developed the "responsible corporate officer doctrine," which in recent years has been applied with increasing frequency in environmental enforcement. A California appellate court recently applied the doctrine to enforce civil liability on the officers of a family run business.

A recurring D&O insurance coverage concern involves the question whether the standard pollution exclusion typically found in most D&O policies could preclude coverage for a securities lawsuit alleging pollution-related misrepresentations or omissions. An August 15, 2008 opinion (here) by a New Jersey intermediate appellate court addressed this issue squarely.

The New Jersey

In a development of potentially great significance for climate change disclosure and reporting issues, on August 27, 2008, New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo announced (here) that Xcel Energy had entered a “binding and enforceable agreement” requiring the company “to disclose the financial risks that climate change poses to investors.” Xcel’s announcement regarding

In a recent post (here), I wrote about the September 18, 2007 petition submitted to the SEC by several environmental groups, seeking to persuade the SEC to institute rules requiring companies to assess and fully disclose their financial risks from climate change. These groups clearly want to use the SEC’s disclosure requirements to