October 29, 2007
U.S. Supreme Court to Review Exxon Valdez Punitive Damages
The United States Supreme Court has granted certiorari to review the punitive damages award in the Exxon Valdez litigation. Interestingly, Justice Alito has recused himself, because of his ownership of Exxon stock. Here's an excerpt from the cnn.com article, Supreme Court to review Exxon Valdez damages:
The Supreme Court on Monday agreed to decide whether Exxon Mobil Corp. should pay $2.5 billion in punitive damages in connection with the huge Exxon Valdez oil spill that fouled more than 1,200 miles of Alaskan coastline in 1989.
The high court stepped into the long-running battle over the damages that Exxon Mobil owes in the spillage of 11 million gallons of oil into Alaska's Prince William Sound, the worst oil spill in U.S. in 1994.
The justices said they would consider whether the company should have to pay any punitive damages at all. If the court decides some money is due, Exxon is arguing that $2.5 billion is excessive under laws governing shipping and prior high court decisions limiting punitive damages.
The damages were, by far, the largest ever approved by federal appeals judges, the company said in its brief to the court.
The case probably will be heard in the spring. The court's last ruling on punitive damages, in February, set aside a nearly $80 million judgment against Altria Group's Philip Morris USA. The money was awarded to the widow of a smoker in Oregon.
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