Case Details


Compulsory Process, Investigatory Authority, Long-arm Statute, Personal Jurisdiction, Subpoena

Filing State



Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court




Exxon Mobil Corporation v. Attorney General, 479 Mass. 312 (Mass. 2018)


Exxon’s request to set aside the civil investigative demand and disqualify the attorney general was denied

Case Description

The attorney general of Massachusetts sought documents from Exxon about Exxon’s “historical knowledge of climate change and its communications with interest groups and shareholders regarding” climate change.  Exxon sought to quash the subpoena in a state court suit against the attorney general alleging that tsubpoena violated the state constitution’s protections for free speech and was arbitrary and capricious and further alleged that Exxon was not subject to personal jurisdiction in Massachusetts. The state troal court upheld the attorney general’s subpoena and Exxon appealed. The Supreme Judicial Court held that there was personal jurisdiction over Exxon with respect to the attorney general’s investigation and affirmed that lower court’s order denying Exxon’s request to set aside the civil investigative demand and disqualify the attorney general. The party challenging the CID has the burden of showing that the information requested is not described with reasonable particularity, is not relevant or is an excessive amount. None of those factors were present here.  With regard to investigatory authority, the court held, “The Attorney General’s belief that Exxon’s conduct may violate G.L. 93A is all that is required under G. L. c. 93A, § 6 (1).” Exxon also alleged that remarks made by the attorney general at a press conference warranted disqualification of her office.  The court held ” The Attorney General is authorized to investigate what she believes to be violations of c. 93A. As an elected official, it is reasonable that she routinely informs her constituents of the nature of her investigations.” Also see Exxon v. Schneiderman