Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Exxon Files Appeal Of Revised $2.5 Billion Exxon-Valdez Judgment With The U.S. Supreme Court

Update: Additional links posted August 22nd, 2007 in green.

Exxon Mobil announced it has filed an appeal of the revised $2.5 billion civil judgment rendered by the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to the U.S. Supreme Court in association with the 1989 Exxon Valdez oil spill in Prince William Sound. Full story published August 21st, 2007 in the Anchorage Daily News. A second Daily News story published HERE on August 22nd.

In their petition to the Supreme Court, Exxon questions whether it's legal for the 9th Circuit to impose punitive damages under maritime law against Exxon for the behavior of one of its captains if Exxon didn't have a direct role in the captain's behavior, and if the captain's behavior was contrary to company policy. In addition, Exxon claims the 9th Circuit's ruling ignores legal precedent set by other federal appeals courts.

Click HERE to view the 40-page petition in PDF format.

Click HERE to view 306-page appendix in PDF format.

In 1994, an Anchorage jury awarded $5 billion in punitive damages to the class-action plaintiffs, who claim economic harm from the spill of nearly 11 million gallons of crude oil in Prince William Sound. Exxon has been appealing the judgment ever since. A major break for the company came on December 22nd, 2006 when the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, considering the accidental nature of the spill and Exxon's claim that they had already spent $3 billion on cleanup, reduced the award to $2.5 billion. After the Ninth Court refused to reconsider their ruling, Exxon announced their intention to appeal on May 23rd, and today followed through.

Exxon's intransigence is fueled in part by their bottom line. Having realized $39.5 billion in corporate profits for all of 2006, and another $10 billion in profits during the second quarter of 2007, they have money to burn on attorney's fees.

Meanwhile, lawyers for the plaintiffs have said that roughly 20 percent of their clients have died during the lawsuit. The living plaintiffs include about 33,000 commercial fishermen, cannery workers, landowners, Alaska Natives (whose ability to live a subsistence lifestyle has been hindered), local governments and businesses.

Four of the nine Supreme Court justices must vote in favor of granting the petition. Granting the petition doesn't automatically throw out the lower court's ruling, it simply means the Supreme Court will review the ruling. However, this is the final stop for Exxon. If the Supreme Court upholds the lower court's ruling, Exxon will have to pay.

Exxon is the one corporation almost universally hated by Alaskans and considered one of the "bad boys" of the corporate world because of their contemptuous, manipulative attitude and their absolute intransigence and insensitivity. Other actions by Exxon considered outrageous by Alaskans:

1). Exxon awarded retiring CEO Lee Raymond an utterly obscene $167.7 million golden parachute in 2005.

2). Exxon sat on a natural gas lease at Point Thomson for 30 years without making any attempt to develop it, in violation or the original intent of those type of leases. Just before leaving office, former Governor Frank Murkowski revoked the Point Thomson lease.

An article in The Nation also describes other examples of Exxon's unilateralism, such as the fact that they are the only major producer not to have invested anything towards renewable energy.


  1. Yes, PRO-WHITE! Pro-white doesn't mean every post has to be about race. The primary purpose of this blog is to represent Alaska to the outside world (so that maybe, someday, we can get Congress to open up ANWR), and inform Alaskans of outside issues of concern to us. When I do discuss race, I do so from the pro-white perspective.

    However, there's not a need to discuss race frequently because we don't have as many racial issues up here as other places.

    There is a difference between being "race-conscious" versus "race-obsessed". I prefer the former.