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View Full Version : SCOTUS Decides Exxon Valdez Civil Suit



vicvanb
06-25-2008, 09:27 PM
In 1989 the Exxon Valdez spilled 11 million gallons of crude oil into Prince William Sound, Alaska, and fouled 1,200 miles of coastline. Fisheries experts state that only about 10% of the oil was recovered. Some fisheries (i.e., herring) never recovered. Economic losses to fisherman and others were huge.

In the ensuing law suits, injured parties were awarded $5 billion punitive damages which was reduced to $2.5 billion by an appeals court. Exxon appealed to the US Supreme Court claiming maritime law prohibited punitive damages and they owed nothing.

Now, 19 years after the spill (and after 3,200 plaintiffs died) the court finally ruled. Exxon must pay $507.5 million in punitive damages. The Court made law (rather than interpreting laws passed by Congress) by ruling that the ratio of punitive to compensatory damages could not exceed 1:1.

There are 33,000 plaintiffs and the average payment will be about $15,000--a very small amount compared to the losses.

$507.5 million is equivalent to about 4 days worth of Exxon's current profits.

I guess the moral of the story is that corporate America need not worry about negligence, and it pays to stall lawsuits as long as possible.

Once again, the little guy gets screwed and Big Business is golden.

John Kielly
06-25-2008, 09:42 PM
I guess the moral of the story is that corporate America need not worry about negligence, and it pays to stall lawsuits as long as possible.

Why did they bother? Aren't all costs of suits, including awards, deductable, meaning that the taxpayers ante up for it anyway?

Mr. D
06-26-2008, 12:59 AM
You guys sound like liberals! :D :D :D A joke! A joke! :eek: