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Run Aground Again: The <i>Exxon Valdez</i>'s Collision With the Supreme Court's Punitive Damages Jurisprudence

November 2009

Citation: 39 ELR 11097

Issue: 11

Author: Shawn LaTourette

Editors' Summary


After 20 years of litigation, the Supreme Court's decision in the Exxon Valdez case established a new constraint on punitive damages. The decision will impact the future of punitive damage awards in the United States, and will have implications for federal and state common-law claims frequently raised in environmental cases. The decision will also have consequences for the constitutional due process limitation on punitive damages, and may lead to exceptions to these seemingly narrow punitive damages rules. Although rooted in federal maritime law, the Exxon Valdez decision may signal a tide change in punitive damages jurisprudence.


Shawn LaTourette is a recent graduate of Rutgers University School of Law-Camden and will be joining Latham & Watkins, LLP as an associate in the firm's Newark, New Jersey, office in December 2009.

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