Federal judge orders AG Healey to travel to Texas for ExxonMobil deposition
By Evan Lips | November 20, 2016, 12:46 EST
DALLAS — A federal judge has ordered Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey to travel to the Lone Star State next month to answer questions, under oath, from attorneys representing ExxonMobil, who allege Healey conspired with environmental activists and engaged in a political “witch hunt” with other progressive state attorneys generals when she issued the energy giant a civil investigation demand.
Last spring Healey and New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman pounced on ExxonMobil in an effort to force the company to cough up 40 years’ worth of internal records, documents they claim will show that ExxonMobil scientists knew of the energy giant’s role in climate change and intentionally covered up relevant information.
ExxonMobil filed for an injunction in federal court in Dallas. Last month U.S. District Court Judge Ed Kinkeade, citing concerns that Healey may have issued her civil investigation demand “with bias or prejudgment,” ordered Massachusetts’s top cop to participate in discovery proceedings.
Kinkeade’s most recent order means that Healey must appear in Dallas on Dec. 13 at 9 a.m. to be deposed.
“The Court is mindful of the busy schedule of each of the Attorneys General Healey and Schneiderman and will be open to considering a different date for the deposition,” Kinkeade noted however.
Alan Jeffers, media relations manager for ExxonMobil, has stated that the company had “no choice but to defend ourselves against politically motivated investigations that are biased, in bad faith and without legal merit.
“We did not start this, but we will see it through and will vigorously defend ourselves against false allegations and mischaracterizations of our climate research and investor communications,” Jeffers added.
In September Healey accused ExxonMobil of “forum-shopping” after the company’s attorneys elected to file their injunction in Texas instead of in Massachusetts.
Chloe Gotsis, a spokeswoman for Healey, told the Washington Times in a prepared statement that she was “surprised that the court has ordered two attorneys general to appear for depositions in Dallas even though Exxon made no such request.”
“Our office has argued strongly that there is no personal jurisdiction in Texas and have urged the Court to rule on our motion for dismissal,” Gotsis added. “In the meantime, we continue to litigate against Exxon in Massachusetts state court, where this dispute properly belongs, and will fight aggressively to investigate whether Exxon Mobil deceived consumers and investors about the impact of fossil fuels.”
Read Kinkeade’s order: