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Exxon Valdez Ruling A Precursor Of Future Damage Award Limits?

Publication Date: 
June 26, 2008
San Francisco Chronicle
Bob Egelko

Jeffrey Fisher is quoted in the San Francisco Chronicle about yesterday's Supreme Court ruling on the reduction of the Exxon Valdez oil spill punitive damages award:

The Supreme Court cut punitive damages for Alaskans harmed by the Exxon Valdez oil spill by 80 percent Wednesday in a ruling that may signal new limits on damage awards for victims of corporate wrongdoing.

The 5-3 decision reduced punitive damages from $2.5 billion to about $500 million for 32,000 commercial fishers, food processors and Alaskan natives whose livelihoods were damaged by the 1989 spill, the worst in U.S. history. The court said Exxon's conduct had not been motivated by malice or greed and noted that the jury had awarded the plaintiffs another $500 million as compensation for their losses.


Jeffrey Fisher, a Stanford law professor who represented the plaintiffs, said the ruling was a big loss for his clients, whose average punitive damage award fell from $75,000 to $15,000.