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Court to Rehear Katrina|Global-Warming Case

(CN) - The full 5th Circuit will reconsider its decision allowing Mississippi property owners to sue oil, coal and chemical companies whose pollution allegedly "added to the ferocity" of Hurricane Katrina, which destroyed public and private property.

The October 2009 panel decision cleared the path for a class action blaming polluters for some of the damage inflicted by Katrina.

The ruling was in step with the 2nd Circuit's decision to allow a federal nuisance lawsuit against six power companies over greenhouse gases. In Connecticut v. AEP, the 2nd Circuit reinstated the nuisance claims of eight states, New York City and three land trusts who accused the companies of contributing to global warming.

"Although we arrived at our own decision independently," the 5th Circuit panel wrote, "the Second Circuit's reasoning is fully consistent with ours, particularly in its careful analysis of whether the case requires the court to address any specific issue that is constitutionally committed to another branch of government."

Both circuit courts rejected lower courts' findings that global-warming disputes are best resolved by the political branches of government.

The three-judge panel in New Orleans also dismissed for lack of standing claims for unjust enrichment, fraudulent misrepresentation and civil conspiracy.

A majority of 5th Circuit judges voted last week to rehear the case en banc.

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