Attorney General Bonta Files Amended Complaint in Lawsuit Against Five of the Largest Fossil Fuel Companies

Monday, June 10, 2024
Contact: (916) 210-6000,

Today’s amended complaint seeks disgorgement of illegally obtained profits under AB 1366 to compensate Californians for deception and climate change-related harms from Big Fossil Fuel companies 

The amended complaint also includes further illustrations of the companies’ “greenwashing,” a campaign of deception that continues today

SAN FRANCISCO – California Attorney General Rob Bonta today filed an amended complaint in People ex rel. Bonta v. Exxon Mobil, his lawsuit against five of the largest fossil fuel companies in the world — Exxon Mobil, Shell, Chevron, ConocoPhillips, and BP — and the American Petroleum Institute (API), adding the disgorgement remedy provided by AB 1366, which was enacted earlier this year and would require the defendants to give up the profits gained through their illegal conduct. The amended complaint, filed in San Francisco County Superior Court, also includes additional examples of recent false advertising and greenwashing conduct by the oil companies.

Last September, the Attorney General filed a lawsuit alleging that five of the largest fossil fuel companies in the world and API engaged in a decades-long campaign of deception regarding the reality of climate change and the connection between combustion of fossil fuels and climate change, resulting in climate change-related harms in California. The complaint alleges that the companies have known since at least the 1960s that the burning of fossil fuels would warm the planet and change our climate, and yet those companies denied and sowed artificial doubt about climate science in their public statements and marketing. Today’s amended complaint adds new evidence of continued false advertising and misleading environmental marketing by the fossil fuel company defendants and API, and seeks disgorgement of profits under AB 1366 for the companies’ violations of consumer protection laws.

“This much is clear: Big Oil continues to mislead us with their lies and mistruths, and we won’t stand for that,” said Attorney General Bonta. “Their ongoing egregious misconduct is damning. We will continue to vigorously prosecute this matter and ensure that Big Oil pays to abate the harm they have caused, and we will recover ill-gotten gains that will benefit Californians.”

The amended complaint includes extensive evidence demonstrating that these companies’ deceptive conduct continues even today by deflecting attention from their role in causing climate change. By engaging in "greenwashing" —falsely or misleadingly portraying their fossil fuel products and themselves as environmentally friendly, climate-friendly, or otherwise less environmentally damaging than they really are—these companies portray themselves as being part of the climate solution rather than a primary cause of the climate crisis. Their repeated claims that certain of their products are “clean,” and their frequent use of “green” and environmentally positive imagery in their marketing materials, are likely to mislead Californians that the oil companies’ fuels are less environmentally harmful than they are. In addition, the fossil fuel companies collectively promote their petroleum and natural gas products through API, which has continued to make misleading public statements and claims about oil and natural gas.

Today’s amended complaint also includes a request to the Court under AB 1366, which allows the Attorney General to seek disgorgement of profits obtained in violation of the Unfair Competition Law and False Advertising Laws. If the court finds that the companies have violated the law and orders disgorgement, this remedy would require the defendants to give up the profits gained through their illegal conduct. The new Victims of Consumer Fraud Restitution Fund, into which disgorged funds would be deposited, would serve as a future source of funding to help provide restitution to victims of consumer fraud in California.

A copy of the amended complaint can be found here.

# # #