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Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

ExxonMobil notched a big win in the New York Supreme Court, but don't expect the victory to inoculate Big Oil against several other courtroom challenges over global warming.

Catch up fast: A judge ruled yesterday that the state's attorney general failed to show that the oil giant misled investors about the costs of addressing climate change. The decision called the claims "hyperbolic."

The big picture: Big Oil is facing a widening set of legal fights on climate change. Multiple attorneys said the decision based on New York fraud statutes will not spill into the cases that rest on separate allegations about costs to local governments from climate change.

  • "I don’t see today’s ruling as having any real effect on the other climate litigation involving municipalities alleging that oil companies created a public nuisance," UCLA law professor Ann Carlson tells Axios.
  • "The New York case involves is a very specific set of facts under a very specific state statute that is unique to the state," said Carlson, who does pro bono consulting for some municipalities that have brought cases.

But, but, but: The ruling could affect litigants who bring cases with securities fraud claims in other jurisdictions, one expert tells Axios.

  • "[W]hile the New York opinion is certainly not precedential in federal courts or another state court, the judge’s opinion will be relevant to other cases considering similar questions," Harvard's Hana V. Vizcarra says.
  • "There is nearly no previous case law directly addressing climate-related information, so this case will definitely be looked to as a reference in cases involving corporate assessments of climate change risks," says Vizcarra, a lawyer with Harvard Law School’s Environmental & Energy Law Program.

The New York decision, while a clear win for Exxon, had a thin silver lining for activists as Judge Barry Ostrager noted what the decision wasn't about.

"Nothing in this opinion is intended to absolve ExxonMobil from responsibility for contributing to climate change through the emission of greenhouse gases in the production of its fossil fuel products."
— Judge Ostrager

Where it stands: In October, Massachusetts filed a fraud case against Exxon in state court there.

  • The Boston Globe explores the similarities and differences between that suit — which also goes after Exxon's claims in its advertising — and the New York case.

Go deeper:

Editor's note: This piece was updated to add info on Ann Carlson's pro bono work.

Go deeper

Buffett eyes slow U.S. progress, but says "never bet against America"

Warren Buffett in New York City in 2017. Photo: Daniel Zuchnik/WireImage

Warren Buffett called progress in America "slow, uneven and often discouraging," but retained his long-term optimism in the country, in his closely watched annual shareholder letter released Saturday morning.

Why it matters: It breaks months of uncharacteristic silence from the 90-year-old billionaire Berkshire Hathaway CEO — as the fragile economy coped with the pandemic and the U.S. saw a contentious presidential election.

Restaurant software meets the pandemic moment

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

Food delivery companies have predictably done well during the pandemic. But restaurant software providers are also having a moment as eateries race to handle the avalanche of online orders resulting from severe in-person dining restrictions.

Driving the news: Olo filed last week for an IPO and Toast is rumored to be preparing to do the same very soon.

Bryan Walsh, author of Future
5 hours ago - Technology

How the automation economy can turn human workers into robots

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

More than outright destroying jobs, automation is changing employment in ways that will weigh on workers.

The big picture: Right now, we should be less worried about robots taking human jobs than people in low-skilled positions being forced to work like robots.

You’ve caught up. Now what?

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