SitNews - Stories in the News - Ketchikan, Alaska


Supreme Court Orders Exxon Valdez Award Reduction


June 25, 2008

(SitNews) - The United Staes Supreme Court today ruled on legal questions relating to punitive damages and the Valdez oil spill. The nation's highest court ruled punitive damages are allowed in the lawsuit over the 1989 Valdez oil spill, but by a 5-3 vote ordered lower courts to reduce the $2.5 billion award to no more than $ 507.5 million.

Considered one of the worst oil spills in the world, the Exxon Valdez disaster spilled approximately 11 million gallons of crude oil into Prince William Sound on March 24, 1989. The oil fouled an estimated 1,300 miles of Alaska coastline. The spill killed hundreds of thousands of birds and animals, despoiled the environment and deprived thousands of fishermen and subsistence users of their livelihoods.

Governor Sarah Palin responded to today's Supreme Court decision saying, "I am extremely disappointed with today's decision by the U.S. Supreme Court. While the decision brings some degree of closure to Alaskans suffering from 19 years of litigation and delay, the Court gutted the jury's decision on punitive damages."

Governor Palin added, "It is tragic that so many Alaska fishermen and their families have had their lives put on hold waiting for this decision. My heart goes out to those affected, especially the families of the thousands of Alaskans who passed away while waiting for justice."

Governor Palin noted that the decision today undercut one of the principal legs of deterrence for those engaged in maritime shipping in Alaska waters. She called on state and federal agencies to be vigilant and firm in regulating such activities.

Denby Lloyd, commissioner of the Alaska Department of Fish and Game, says the impacts of the oil spill on marine life continue to be felt today.

"The fish and wildlife, as well as the people, of Alaska and Prince William Sound are still feeling the harmful effects of Exxon's actions to this date," said Lloyd. "It will be years more before they fully recover from this tragedy."

In a prepared statement ExxonMobil Chairman and CEO, Rex W. Tillerson said, "The Valdez oil spill was a tragic accident and one which the corporation deeply regrets."

Tillerson said said, "We know this has been a very difficult time for everyone involved. We have worked hard over many years to address the impacts of the spill and to prevent such accidents from happening in our company again." He said, "We took immediate responsibility for the spill and have spent over $3.4 billion as a result of the accident, including compensatory payments, cleanup payments, settlements and fines."

The company cleaned up the spill and voluntarily compensated more than 11,000 Alaskans and businesses said Tillerson. "The clean-up was declared complete by the State of Alaska and the United States Coast Guard in 1992," he said.

Tillerson said, "In the aftermath of the Valdez accident, we redoubled our long-time commitment to safeguard the environment, our employees and the communities in which we operate."



Related Information:

pdfSupreme Court/Slip Opinion - Exxon Shipping Co. ET AL v. Baker ET AL (61-pages)



Sources of News:


Office of the Governor

U. S. Supreme Court


E-mail your news & photos to

Publish A Letter in SitNews
        Read Letters/Opinions

Contact the Editor

SitNews ©2008
Stories In The News
Ketchikan, Alaska