Every Bird Matters
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Posts Tagged ‘supreme court’

June 27, 2008

Court knocks down Exxon oil spill damages

After nearly 20 years of legal wrangling, the Exxon Valdez oil spill court case has finally come to a bitter end. On June 25, 2008 the U.S. Supreme Court knocked down punitive damages in a 5-3 ruling that could have far reaching affects for victims harmed during shipping oil spill accidents.

The court reduced the award to $500 million from $2.5 Billion that more than 32,000 fishermen and Alaska Natives had been waiting to collect on oil spill claims from the Exxon Mobil Corp. The plantiffs claimed that the spill caused incredible damage to fishing grounds and harmed their ability to make a living in the area. The 1989 spill caused 11 million gallons of crude oil to harm fishing grounds in the Prince William Sound area.

In late February 2008, the U.S. Supreme Court finally heard oral arguments in the case Exxon Shipping Co. v. Baker, 07-219. Case timeline

A lower court originally awarded $5 Billion in damages to area fishermen who lost revenue after the spill. Another court cut that award in half to $2.5 Billion. The Supreme Court was expected to trim some of the damage award again as Justice Samuel Alito recused himself from the case. Alito owns between $100,000 and $250,000 in Exxon stock and stepped aside on the case.

For background on the spill, go to Crude Awakening IBBRC’s story on the spill and its bird saving efforts.

Read more about the recent court descision from the story in the San Francisco Chronicle

Exxon not cutting any checks yet: Alaska Daily News

February 25, 2008

High court hears Exxon Valdez oil spill suit

Nearly 14 years after Exxon was ordered to pay $5 billion dollars because of the damages done to people and their livelyhood during the Exxon Valdez oil spill, the nation’s top court is scheduled to hear the final appeal this week.

The U.S. Supreme Court will listen to arguments this coming Wednesday from the 1994 judgment that awarded residents and fishermen the huge award. The award has been reviewed three times by a district judge and twice by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit, based in San Francisco. In December 2006, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals issued its final ruling, setting the punitive damages award at $2.5 billion.

In the meantime, 20% of the more than 30,000 fishermen, Native Alaskans, cannery workers and others who triumphed in the Anchorage, Alaska court that day in 1994 are now dead.

Following the 1989 oil spill, more than 11 million gallons spilled. An estimated 300 bald eagles died and another 200,000 common murres perished. Scores of other whales, otters, salmon and invertebrates also died in the aftermath of the spill that hit Prince William Sound and the surrounding areas.

Members of IBRRC’s response team spent nearly six months in Alaska helping care for oiled birds in the spill. See IBRRC report

Read more on the MSNBC website

Also read, plantiff’s law firm discussion of the case