Editorial: 9th Circuit justice in Exxon oil spill case
"A federal appeals court struck a blow for justice Monday when it awarded the maximum allowable punitive damages in the Exxon Valdez oil spill case -- and told Exxon Mobil to pay interest dating back to 1996.

That means thousands of Alaskans -- Natives, fishermen, other plaintiffs and their attorneys -- will share about $1 billion in payments from the oil company.

The decision comes almost 15 years after a jury in Anchorage awarded the plaintiffs $5 billion in damages. Over the years, in rulings that bounced back and forth between U.S. District Court here and the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco, that award was whittled down. In 2008, the U.S. Supreme Court set the maximum award at $507 million and left the argument over when the interest clock began ticking to the appeals court.

Fifteen years. If justice delayed is justice denied, then justice has gone begging a long time in this case. Exxon Mobil can still appeal the Ninth's decision back to the high court. Alaskans would rather see Exxon take the high road: Continue payouts begun last fall, pay the billion and finally close this case more than 20 years after oil fouled Prince William Sound in the worst spill in North American history."

Get the Story:
Our view: A measure of justice (The Anchorage Daily News 6/17)

9th Circuit Decision:
Baker v. Exxon Mobile (June 15, 2009)

Supreme Court Decision:
Syllabus | Opinion [Souter] | Concurrence [Scalia] | Concurence/Dissent [Stevens] | Concurence/Dissent [Ginsburg] | Concurence/Dissent [Breyer]

Related Stories:
9th Circuit enters award in Exxon oil spill case (6/16)
Editorial: Learning from Exxon Valdez spill (3/23)
Alaska Natives get small share of Exxon judgment (6/26)
Supreme Court rulings awaited in Indian Country (6/24)
Supreme Court cuts down Exxon oil spill damages (6/25)
Supreme Court hears Exxon Valdez oil spill case (2/28)
Supreme Court agrees to hear Exxon oil spill case (10/30)
Court won't reconsider $2.5B Exxon Valdez award (5/24)
Alaska Natives seek $100M for Exxon Valdez oil spill (5/2)
Judge orders Exxon to pay $7B for Valdez spill (1/29)
Exxon wants oil spill award reduced (06/13)
Alaska Natives appeal Exxon ruling (11/30)
Exxon fight has proven costly (11/9)
Native payout for Exxon spill lowered (11/8)
Exxon Valdez health complaints probed (11/6)