A California federal court will soon hear oral arguments from San Francisco and Oakland that assert five major oil companies should pay huge sums of money for contributing to man-made global warming.
A ruling against oil companies could not only have tremendous consequences for the U.S. legal system but could also mean a sizable payday for the class action firms representing cities suing over global warming.
Class action firm Hagens Berman Sobol Shapiro LLP is handling lawsuits for San Francisco, Oakland and New York City, on a contingency fee basis. Cities pay law firms no upfront cost in exchange for a percentage of any winnings or settlement.
Hagens Berman stands to earn millions, possibly billions, of dollars in contingency fees depending on the total winnings, should San Francisco, Oakland or New York City win their global warming suits against oil companies. All told, these three cities are asking oil companies to hand over many billions of dollars.
The firm is entitled to 23.5 percent of any winnings from its cases with San Francisco and Oakland, according to previous reports. NYC Law Department spokesman Nicholas Paolucci also confirmed Hagens Berman was working on a contingency fee basis.
“We’re engaging the firm on a contingency fee basis,” Paolucci told TheDCNF regarding Hagens Berman. “We are currently working out all the details in a contract.”
The city wants five major oil companies, including Exxon Mobil and BP, to pay for current and future damages from alleged man-made warming allegedly wrought. The “cost of needed resiliency projects runs to many billions of dollars” and currently has plans for $19 billion to mitigate global warming, NYC’s complaint claims.
The firm is looking at a potential $4.5 billion payout if Hagens Berman strikes a fee deal with NYC that’s comparable to San Francisco and Oakland.