Tuesday :: Jun 16, 2009

Pocket Change

by Turkana

But better than nothing. Or less...

Lyle Denniston, of ScotusBlog:

In a ruling that the Ninth Circuit Court said it hoped would bring to an end the years-long legal battle over harms done by the massive oil spill from the supertanker Exxon Valdez in Alaskan waters in 1989, a three-judge Circuit panel on Monday found that the ship’s owner must pay about $500 million in interest to fishermen, other small businesses, and groups that had sued for damages.  That represents more than 12 years of interest; Exxon Mobil Corp. had fought to limit the interest to less than a year’s worth.

The decision resolves an issue that the Supreme Court left open last summer, after ruling that Exxon Mobil could be required to pay punitive damages.  The company, of course, could choose to fight on with further appeals.

The Circuit Court’s opinion, found here, also rejected Exxon Mobil’s plea that the other side pay at least 90 percent of the company’s court costs of $70 million, run up in challenging the punitive damages verdict against it.  The Circuit Court said each side should pay its own costs — the part of the ruling that produced a 2-1 split on the panel.

The ruling on interest requires Exxon Mobil (unless it can overturn the decision in a further appeal) to pay interest at 5.9 percent dating from Sept. 24, 1996 — the date on which a federal District Court first ordered the company to pay punitive damages.  This rate will be applied to the $507.5 million in punitive damages that is now the final figure, in the wake of a Supreme Court decision last June that cut the punitive award from $2.5 billion; at an earlier point, in the jury’s verdict, the punitive award had been at $5 billion, but that was reduced by lower courts.

Turkana :: 2:06 PM :: Comments (0) :: Digg It!