December 2023

San Juan, the largest municipality in Puerto Rico, filed a lawsuit against major fossil fuel companies alleging that they violated the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) Act, which has famously been used to prosecute organized crime.

Filed in federal court against ExxonMobil, Chevron, Shell, BP, the American Petroleum Institute, and others, the lawsuit points specifically to the role that the companies’ coordinated climate deception played in the 2017 hurricane season that claimed thousands of lives and caused billions of dollars in damage to the U.S. territory. 

The companies invested billions in a “fraudulent marketing scheme to convince consumers that their fossil fuel-based products did not — and would not — alter the climate, knowing full well the consequences of their combined carbon pollution on Puerto Rico,” according to the complaint. 

The municipality seeks to hold the companies accountable for the billions of dollars in damages they suffered during Hurricane Maria and other storms in 2017, which were intensified by global warming. In the complaint, they argue that the companies violated fraud, racketeering, antitrust, product liability, and nuisance laws, and also describe the real threats to human and constitutional rights of the affected Puerto Rican community.