Judge Imposes $4.5 Billion in Damages in Exxon Valdez Case

A federal judge in Alaska on Wednesday imposed $4.5 billion in punitive damages on ExxonMobil Corp. for the 1989 Exxon Valdez oil tanker spill in Prince William Sound. The judgment marks the third time the case has been through federal court; on two previous occasions, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals deemed the award excessive and sent it back for review. Exxon expects to appeal yet again. It’s been almost 15 years since the tanker, piloted by a relapsed alcoholic who faced only misdemeanor charges, ran aground on a reef and dumped 11 million gallons of crude oil in Alaskan waters. The class action suit involving some 32,000 fishers and others affected by the spill has dragged on for more than a decade. In a strongly worded ruling (his third), Judge H. Russel Holland said, “We are dealing with reckless corporate officials.” You think?