Friday, February 29, 2008

Exxon Valdez And The Exxon Friendly US Supreme Court


Exxon Mobil, the giant oil corporation appearing before the Supreme Court yesterday, had earned a profit of nearly $40 billion in 2006, the largest ever reported by a U.S. company -- but that's not what bothered Roberts. What bothered the chief justice was that Exxon was being ordered to pay $2.5 billion -- roughly three weeks' worth of profits -- for destroying a long swath of the Alaska coastline in the largest oil spill in American history.

"So what can a corporation do to protect itself against punitive-damages awards such as this?" Roberts asked in court.

The lawyer arguing for the Alaska fishermen affected by the spill, Jeffrey Fisher, had an idea. "Well," he said, "it can hire fit and competent people."

The rare sound of laughter rippled through the august chamber. The chief justice did not look amused.

Perhaps, though, his consternation was misplaced. Everybody knows the wheels of justice turn slowly, but in the case of the 1989 Exxon Valdez spill, things have dragged on so long that Lady Justice's blindness could reasonably be attributed to cataracts.more

Or there is this report from the Mail UK.

Almost 33,000 Alaskan victims of the disastrous Exxon Valdez oil spill could see their court-ordered payments reduced by more than half, to about $30,000 (£15,00) each.

Exxon Mobil Corporation has fought a long legal battle over punitive damages, and could receive a partial victory in the Supreme Court if justices agree with their arguments.

The justices reached no firm conclusions in court yestersday, but they appeared to agree with Exxon that the $2.5 billion (£1.25 billion), or $75,000 (£37,750) a person, ordered by a federal court is excessive punishment for the massive 1989 spill.more

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