Supreme Court Urged To Review Punitive Damages | Chemical & Engineering News
Volume 86 Issue 1 | p. 17 | Concentrates
Issue Date: January 7, 2008

Supreme Court Urged To Review Punitive Damages

Department: Government & Policy

The petroleum and chemical industries are asking the U.S. Supreme Court to consider whether the $2.5 billion punitive damages award assessed against Exxon for harm resulting from the 1989 oil spill in Prince William Sound, Alaska, is justified. "A punitive award is excessive if it exceeds the amount that is reasonably necessary to accomplish the governmental interests in deterrence and retribution," says a brief filed by the American Petroleum Institute, the American Chemistry Council, the National Association of Manufacturers, and several other industry trade associations. The brief points out that the award is $1.3 billion more than the previous record, imposed in a class-action case alleging kidnapping, torture, and murder. "Tempting though it is to demonize Exxon because of the devastating damage that befell Prince William Sound, Exxon did not deliberately contaminate that ecosystem; nor did it knowingly put that ecosystem at risk in a callous effort to save money," the brief states.

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