Jump to Navigation
Jump to Content

In re In re Exxon Valdez

ELR Citation: 37 ELR 20001
Nos. Nos. 04-35182, -35183, (9th Cir., 12/22/2006) Vacated and remanded

The court cut nearly in half the $4.5 billion punitive damages award against Exxon Mobil in connection with its 1989 oil spill in Prince William Sound, Alaska. The ratio of punitive damages to actual economic harm resulting from the spill exceeded by a material factor the ratio that would be appropriate under a prior decision in this litigation and current controlling U.S. Supreme Court analysis. Prompt action taken by Exxon both to clean up the oil and to compensate the plaintiffs for economic losses mollify, at least to some degree, the reprehensibility in economic terms of Exxon's original misconduct. In addition, in considering the relationship between the size of the award and the amount of harm, the substantial costs that Exxon had already borne in cleanup and loss of cargo lessen the need for deterrence in the future. The court therefore, ordered, a remittitur of $2 billion, resulting in punitive damages of $2.5 billion.

[A prior decision in this litigation is digested at 32 ELR 20320.]