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Federal Court of Appeals Grants Nessel’s Request to Review Line 5 Case

LANSING – Today, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit granted Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel’s request to review a lower court’s decision in her litigation against Enbridge Energy seeking to shut down the Line 5 pipelines in the Straits of Mackinac. Specifically, the Sixth Circuit will hear arguments on whether the case belongs in state court or federal court. Attorney General Nessel looks forward to presenting her arguments that the case should be heard in a Michigan state court.

Nessel originally sued Enbridge in state court in 2019. The case was litigated in state court for over a year. In the summer of 2020, the state court ordered that the pipelines be shut down for several weeks to ensure their safety after evidence of new anchor strikes or similar impacts was discovered. Nessel and Enbridge both filed motions asking the state court to decide the case, but those motions were never decided because Enbridge then removed the case to federal court long after the deadline to do so had passed. 

Despite Enbridge’s procedural maneuvering, and the fact that substantial litigation had already taken place in the state court, the federal trial court denied Nessel’s request to remand the case back to state court. Nessel asked the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals to take the unusual step of reviewing that decision now, rather than waiting for the case to be fully litigated in the federal trial court.

“As Michigan’s top law enforcement official, I brought this case forward on behalf of the People of Michigan to protect Michigan’s Great Lakes,” Nessel said, “It is a Michigan case that belongs in a Michigan court. Enbridge voluntarily litigated this case in state court for over a year before deciding it would prefer a different forum. Today the Sixth Circuit granted my request to review this important matter, and I am hopeful that they will send this case back to state court where it belongs.”

Now that the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals has granted Nessel’s request to hear the case, the parties will file briefs and argue before a panel of judges at a date to be determined. The Sixth Circuit will ultimately determine whether the case gets sent back to state court or proceeds in federal court.


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