Thursday, February 28, 2008

Exxon Valdez

I read this on

Yesterday the Supreme Court heard the famous Exxon Valdez case. We all know what happened back in 1989, and now the issue is the amount of punitive damages being assessed to the company. The initial amount was $5 billion, which was then reduced to $2.5 billion, and is now being appealed again in the Supreme Court. The article states that the justices "seemed inclined to reduce the $2.5 billion award of punitive damages to victims of the Exxon Valdez disaster."

Exxon argues that it has already paid about three and a half billion dollars in fines, cleanup costs, etc., and does not see the punitive damages as fair. Also, they argue that the ship's captain, Joseph Hazelwood, is not their responsibility, and they shouldn't be liable for his actions.

The spill severly damaged the water, wildlife, and fishing and shipping industry in that area of Alaska, and many residents claim they are still feeling the effects of the spill, many financially, and some even emotionally. Many residents lost jobs, some lost their marriages, and someone even lost their life. (I believe it was the mayor who committed suicide, but if someone could correct me if I'm wrong, please.)

Anyways, after reading about it, I tend to favor the Alaskan residents on this one. To be honest, I don't know if $5 billion is too much, or $2.5 billion is to little, but I don't think it should be reduced any further. I know Exxon denies responsibility for Hazelwood, but there are some reports by the prosecution that the company knew about his drinking before taking the helm, and whether this is true or not, I still feel it's negligence on Exxon.

It was bad enough that the environment suffered from this, but the people seem to not have recovered from it, and I don't think I can blame them, not without actually living through it myself and seeing it out. Maybe I'm being naive; I'm not a law student, but this is just my opinion. And besides, didn't these guys just post $40 billion in profits? Please, $2.5 billion is nothing.

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