Exxon argued in front of a packed courtroom yesterday that a judgement awarding $5.3 billion in punitive and compensatory damages against the company for the 1989 Exxon Valdez oil spill is excessive and should be dropped. The company’s lawyers told a panel of three judges from the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals that Exxon had already paid enough — $2.2 billion in cleanup costs, more than $1 billion in civil settlements and criminal fines, and $300 million to fishers and fish processors. An Alaska jury ordered Exxon five years ago to pay the $5.3 billion to fishers, Native Americans, landowners, and others affected by the spill, and Exxon has been fighting the judgment ever since. The appeals court’s verdict is not expected for several months.

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