Exxon’s Big Stall Pays Off

Today the Supreme Court, which is in no way controlled by large corporate interests or appointed by those who are in the pockets of Big Oil, finally ruled on the Exxon Valdez class action suit, a case that has been going on now for nearly 20 years.

They decided that Exxon should pay just 10% of the original damage judgment.Spill Victim

You remember the Exxon Valdez – a few minutes after midnight on March 24, 1989, the supertanker crashed into a reef in Prince William Sound, Alaska, and dumped 11 million gallons of crude oil into the water, which then washed up on the shore in an incident that has been described as “…a severe environmental insult to a relatively pristine, ecologically important area that was home to many species of wildlife endangered elsewhere.” The ship’s captain was not at the helm, but in his quarters sleeping off a night of heavy drinking. The incident was characterized at the time as the worst environmental disaster of all time. The cleanup lasted a few months. The litigation didn’t end until today.

The first damage award against Exxon, in 1994, was 5 billion dollars. Exxon appealed, of course, and the various courts involved over the years have reduced it bit by bit until the Supremes got hold of it. They decided that 500 million dollars, or 90% less than the original award, would be fine.

This is an amount approximately equal to six hours worth of Exxon revenue, so obviously the 19 years of denying responsibility paid off for them. It’s amazing how useful the Supreme Court of the United States can be when the President works for you.

Not so fortunate are the 32,000 people who lived along the 1200 miles of coastline that was damaged by the spill, some say forever. According to them, the spill has never been fully cleaned up. They say a lot of the wildlife, killed or driven away by the toxic mess, haven’t returned. The full amount of the original judgment wouldn’t have compensated them adequately for what they suffered. This latest reduction is simply the final humiliation for them.

Legal scholars may be scratching their heads trying to figure out the Court’s reasoning here, but, hey, what’s done is done. Fish, birds, plankton, fishermen: You lost! Get over it! Tomorrow, the Court is expected to rule that the 2nd Amendment to the U.S. Constitution is meant to permit all of us to own guns. All of us, not just those darned “well-regulated militias.”

Yeehaw! Once we’re all armed, we’ll be able to assess our own punitive damages in the future.

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3 Replies to “Exxon’s Big Stall Pays Off”

  1. I’d be suggesting that we impeach the Supreme Court if my mind wasn’t so clouded with notions of storming the building, draggin the cocksuckers out into the open, and lyching them on the spot. No other payback would be sufficient.

  2. Once again Larry, your assessment of this whole thing is right on point! Being a member of the legal profession for more years than I even want to claim as my age, I AM left scratching my head and wondering what those 9 idiots were thinking when they reduced the award for all of those years of suffering to what amounts to approximately $15,000 per person! This does not begin to compensate them, or their heirs, for the permanent damage to their environment. The legal system in this country is crumbling under the pressures applied by rich mans’ greed! Only in this country would you see such a travesty! Why are we surprised when we see the likes of O.J., Phil Specter, and Robert Black get off scott-free for murders we all know they committed?

    And on a lighter note…just wanted to drop in and check out your latest rant and say hello. Drop me a line sometime. Still on the planet, scratching to get by like everyone else. Love Ya and Miss Ya! Val

  3. Apathy is our middle name. A long list of horrible presidents, the jailing of too many people, a government managed by the ultra wealthy, bible pounders influencing lawmakers, a Supreme Court in love with itself… Vietnam, Iraqi – wars for every generation.

    And yet we talk about being a democracy. Every decade I ask myself, “Is this the moment when the middle class will gain a spine and reboot our government?

    Hasn’t happened yet. Maybe when gasoline cost $7.00 a gallon and government forbids excessive driving perhaps something will change. But I won’t bet on it.

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