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Souter Causes Stir With Footnote In 'Exxon' Case

Publication Date: 
July 08, 2008
Legal Times
Tony Mauro

Professor Jeffrey L. Fisher is quoted in a Legal Times article that discusses a footnote by Justice of the Supreme Court David Souter in the recent Exxon Valdez ruling:

Stanford Law School professor and Davis Wright Tremaine partner Jeffrey Fisher, who argued the case for Alaska fishermen seeking damages from Exxon, said in an interview that he was surprised by the footnote. The studies Souter mentioned did not hide the fact that they were funded by Exxon, Fisher acknowledged, and "we hoped the justices would find out." But he did not feel it was appropriate to point it out in his own briefing. Fisher says he is glad that a justice or law clerk with "a particularly attentive eye" read the studies and learned of the Exxon connection.

"As soon as the [original $5 billion] jury verdict came out in 1994," says Fisher, "Exxon set out to fund a lot of research, so they could seed the academic literature as the appeals worked their way up the system." The aim was to show appeals courts how inconsistent juries were in deciding on punitive damage awards.