In a major victory for Exxon Mobil Corp., the company was found not guilty on Tuesday of misleading investors about how it accounts for the financial impact of climate change. The $1.6 billion lawsuit was brought by the New York Attorney General’s office, and the subsequent trial, which began in October, capped a four-year investigation and was the first of its kind. New York Attorney General Erich Schneiderman claimed that he obtained evidence that reveals Exxon’s “sham” process for estimating the costs of climate-change regulations on its company. New York State Supreme Court Justice Judge Barry Ostranger ruled that the state’s attorney general “failed to prove, by a preponderance of the evidence, that ExxonMobil made any material misstatements or omissions about its practices and procedures that misled any reasonable investor,” adding that the office made false promises of bringing a witness to testify to being misled by Exxon.
Attorney General Letitia James said after the verdict, “we will continue to fight to ensure companies are held responsible for actions that undermine and jeopardize the financial health and safety of Americans across our country.” As part of his testimony in October, former Exxon CEO Rex Tillerson alleged that the case was politically motivated and initiated by biased anti-fossil fuel groups.