Friday, December 22, 2006

Ninth Circuit Reduces Exxon Valdez Punitive Damages to $2.5 Billion

Article in the New York Times -- Court Cuts Valdez Judgment Against Exxon, by the Associated Press:

A federal appeals court on Friday cut in half a $5 billion jury award for punitive damages against Exxon Mobil Corp. in the 1989 Valdez oil spill that smeared black goo across roughly 1,500 miles of Alaskan coastline.

The case, one of the nation's longest-running, non-criminal legal disputes, stems from a 1994 decision by an Anchorage jury to award the punitive damages to 34,000 fishermen and other Alaskans. Their property and livelihoods were harmed when the Valdez oil tanker struck a charted reef, spilled 11 million gallons of crude oil.

It's the third time the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals court ordered the Anchorage court to reduce the $5 billion award, the nation's largest at the time, saying it was unconstitutionally excessive considering U.S. Supreme Court precedent.

This time, in its 2-1 decision, the court ordered a specific amount in damages, while its previous rulings demanded a lower court to come up with its own figures.

BGS

http://lawprofessors.typepad.com/mass_tort_litigation/2006/12/ninth_circuit_r.html

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