Farmers Insurance Group, which filed nine class actions in May against nearly 200 communities in the Chicago area, is withdrawing its lawsuit.
The suit accused the Illinois municipalities of failing to prepare for severe rains and flooding. It argued that the local governments should have known rising global temperatures would lead to heavier rains and should have done more to fortify their sewers and stormwater drains.
Some have speculated it could be the first in what could be a wave of litigation over who should be liable for the possible costs of climate change.
Interesting development. Originally, Farmers Insurance wanted to sue cities and towns for the costs of insurance it paid out to hundreds of property owners to cover damages from rain storms. Sewer and drainage systems burst and flooded basements, causing millions in damages.
Farmers argued that the cities and towns were not upgrading infrastructure to prepare for increasingly intense storm events. While enviro-bloggers’ commentaries celebrated Farmers Insurance lawsuit as a climate change “win”, in reality the scheme would have backfired.
They would have also lost the suits, since cities are pretty much bullet-proofed from such lawsuits (e.g., you generally cannot sue federal, state, local, or tribal governments due to sovereign immunity, aka “the king can do no wrong” laws, which basically state that so long as a government is performing ‘governmental functions’, states are immune from being sued. Fun times!).