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In re In re Exxon Valdez

ELR Citation: 27 ELR 20621
Nos. No. 94-36007, 104 F.3d 1196/(9th Cir., 01/17/1997)

The court holds that native Alaskans may not bring a public nuisance action to recover damages for noneconomic "cultural" injuries they incurred as a result of the 1989 grounding of the Exxon Valdez in Prince William Sound. Plaintiff-appellant class of native Alaskans failed to prove any special injury to support their action. The right to lead subsistence lifestyles is not limited to native Alaskans. The right to obtain and share wild food, enjoy uncontaminated nature, and cultivate traditional, cultural, spiritual, and psychological benefits in pristine natural surroundings is shared by all Alaskans. The court refuses to address the applicability of Robins Dry Dock & Repair Co. v. Flint, 275 U.S. 303 (1927) or Alaska statutory and common law. The class has pointed to no provision or precedent that would allow recovery for cultural damage claims.

[Related decisions are published at 21 ELR 21068 and 24 ELR 21380. Briefs in related cases are digested at ELR BRIEFS & PLEADS. 66335 and 66455.]

Counsel for Plaintiff
David Oesting
Davis, Wright & Tremaine
550 W. 7th Ave., Ste. 1450, Anchorage AK 99501
(907) 257-5300

Counsel for Defendants
John F. Daum
O'Melveny & Myers
400 S. Hope St., Los Angeles CA 90071
(213) 669-6000

Before KOZINSKI and LEAVY, Circuit Judges, and SCHWARZER,* Senior District Judge.