Monday, October 29, 2007

Supreme Court to Hear Exxon Valdez Appeal

The U.S. Supreme Court has agreed to hear an appeal by the Exxon Mobil Corporation. Exxon is seeking to overturn $2.5 billion in punitive damages they were ordered to pay by the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit for the 1989 Alaskan oil spill. The Supreme Court agreed to take the case to settle the question of whether the award violates federal maritime law. The case, Exxon Shipping Company, et al., Petitioners v. Grant Baker, et al. (No. 07-219), is expected to clarify the question of punitive damages and will be heard in Spring 2008.

In March 1989 the Exxon Valdez supertanker ran aground on a reef and spilled eleven million gallons of oil into Alaska's Prince William Sound. That spill polluted over 1,200 miles of the Alaskan coastline, killed hundreds of thousands of birds, fish, and marine animals and damaged the local economy. Almost 33,000 Native Alaskans, fishermen, landowners, canneries, and local governments and businesses filed a class-action suit against Exxon Mobil. In 1994, an Alaskan jury awarded the plaintiffs $5 billion. That award was cut in half by the Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit in December 2006 (No. 04-35182).

For background information and history on the Exxon Valdez check out these sites:
Read "Supreme Court to Hear Exxon Valdez Case" from the Washington Post, "Supreme Court to Review $2.5B in Damages Owed by Exxon Mobil Corp. for 1989 Oil Spill" from FOX News, and "Supreme Court to Review Damages in Valdez Oil Spill" from the New York Times.

Want more information? Check out the library's guide on Energy.

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