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California intensifies Big Oil lawsuit, targeting more of companies’ profits

By Wes Venteicher | 06/10/2024 04:32 PM EDT

California Attorney General Rob Bonta cited a 2023 state law that makes it easier to collect damages from companies.

California Attorney General Rob Bonta (left) speaks during a news conference.

The amended complaint, filed Monday in San Francisco County Superior Court, builds on allegations in Rob Bonta (left) and Gov. Gavin Newsom’s original lawsuit from September. Adam Beam/AP

SACRAMENTO, California — California Attorney General Rob Bonta is amending the state’s lawsuit seeking climate change damages from oil companies to incorporate a new state law that allows him to seize profits from companies shown to have violated false advertising and unfair competition laws, his office announced Monday.

The amended complaint, filed Monday in San Francisco County Superior Court, builds on allegations in Bonta and Gov. Gavin Newsom’s from September that accused five of the world’s biggest oil companies of deceiving Californians for decades about the impacts of climate change and of continuing to “greenwash” their role today, according to a news release.

The update incorporates a Bonta-sponsored that Newsom signed last October, a month after he announced the lawsuit against Exxon, Shell, Chevron, ConocoPhillips, BP and the American Petroleum Institute industry trade.

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The change to the state’s consumer protection laws allows the attorney general to go after a company’s “unjust profits” even without showing a plaintiff has suffered a loss, as was required before. The law also created the Victims of Consumer Fraud Restitution Fund, into which money collected from companies found to have violated the state’s unfair competition laws and false advertising laws would go.

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