Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Ching, ching, don't let those cash registers ring when it comes to America's secret kings…

posted by Bill Arnett @ 1:38 PM Permalink

…referring, of course to Exxon-Mobil having the damages they were ordered to pay cut in half by one federal court, and then further reduced by our Supreme Court to one tenth of the original fine for having spilled enough oil to cause one of the worst environmental disaster in my lifetime.

From the NYT:
The Supreme Court on Wednesday slashed the $2.5 billion punitive damages award in the 1989 Exxon Valdez disaster to $500 million.

The court ruled that victims of the worst oil spill in U.S. history may collect punitive damages from Exxon Mobil Corp., but not as much as a federal appeals court determined.

Justice David Souter wrote for the court that punitive damages may not exceed what the company already paid to compensate victims for economic losses, about $500 million compensation.

Souter said a penalty should be ''reasonably predictable'' in its severity
The only thing that seems predictable here is that the courts, even the Supreme Court, are going to decide for big business and against the little people when it comes to the pocketbooks of Big Oil.
Exxon has fought vigorously to reduce or erase the punitive damages verdict by a jury in Alaska four years ago for the accident that dumped 11 million gallons of oil into Prince William Sound. The environmental disaster led to the deaths of hundreds of thousands of seabirds and marine animals.[…]

The problem for the people, businesses and governments who waged the lengthy legal fight against Exxon is that the Supreme Court in recent years has become more receptive to limiting punitive damages awards. The Exxon Valdez case differs from the others in that it involves issues peculiar to laws governing accidents on the water.

Overall, Exxon has paid $3.4 billion in fines, penalties, cleanup costs, claims and other expenses resulting from the worst oil spill in U.S. history.

The commercial fishermen, Native Alaskans, landowners, businesses and local governments involved in the lawsuit have each received about $15,000 so far ''for having their lives and livelihood destroyed and haven't received a dime of emotional-distress damages,'' their Supreme Court lawyer, Jeffrey Fisher, said when the court heard arguments in February.
This truly strikes me as an injustice foisted off upon us by a court dedicating itself to limiting or eliminating penalties in civil cases in accordance with the "Republican Way."

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