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Gulf Oil Leak Sets Off 'Unbelievable Array' Of Legal Issues

Publication Date: 
June 01, 2010
USA Today
Donna Leinwand

Professor Jeffrey Fisher, who argued the Exxon-Valdez case in the Supreme Court, is quoted on compensating victims of the Gulf Coast oil spill. Donna Leinwand of USA Today reports:

Fishermen and property owners along the Gulf Coast have filed hundreds of lawsuits since April against oil company BP and its contractors amid a legal landscape that has changed dramatically since the Exxon Valdez tanker spill sullied Alaska's Prince William Sound 21 years ago.

The Valdez spill prompted Congress to pass the 1990 Oil Pollution Act — intended to give fishers and others harmed by such spills a quicker route for settling their claims — and nearly two decades of litigation over that spill also has redefined centuries-old maritime law on the issue.


"There are an unbelievable array of issues in this case," said Stanford law professor Jeffrey Fisher, who argued the Exxon Valdez case for the commercial fishermen and other Alaska businesses before the Supreme Court. "One of the most painful things about the Exxon case was that it took us 20 years to get the case finished and get the money in the pockets of the victims. One can't help but wonder if the same thing is going to happen here."