Atkinson Conway & Gagnon and all Alaskans are carefully watching the litigation arising out of the Exxon Valdez oil spill. After more than eighteen years, the case is still active. In late 2006, the Ninth Circuit affirmed a $2.5 billion punitive damage award against Exxon. With interest, the total punitive damage award against Exxon is estimated to be in excess of $4.5 billion. As expected, Exxon has appealed this decision to the United States Supreme Court.
The primary focus of Exxon’s appeal is the argument that punitive damages were not available under traditional maritime principles. Exxon is not seeking to just reduce the punitive damage award, but eliminate it entirely. The United States Supreme Court has a short summary of the issues it will be deciding.
Oral argument before the United States Supreme Court is scheduled for Wednesday, February 27, 2008. Below are links to the Supreme Court briefs that have been filed, including amicus briefs. Whatever the Supreme Court’s decision, it is certain that all Alaskans will be closely following this case and that it will have substantial impacts on both Alaskans and the law governing the availability punitive damages.
In support of Exxon
In support of Plaintiffs