Exxon May Have Its Punitive Damages For Valdez Spill Cut In Half By Supreme Court

The Supreme Court is currently considering whether to halve the punitive damages levied against Exxon for its massive 1989 oil spill from the Exxon Valdez tanker, from the current $2.5 billion to something more like $1 billion. Exxon claims the higher number amounts to excessive punishment. According to the New York Times, the decision may come down to a tie with four justices on either side; Justice Alito is not participating because he owns Exxon Mobile stock. The Exxon Valdez disaster “caused a 3,000-square-mile oil slick and still affects Alaska’s fisheries after nearly 19 years.”

In case you think $2.5 billion could bankrupt the company, The Salt Lake Tribune points out that Exxon Mobile’s profit in the last quarter of 2007 was $11.7 billion, and that “the award represents less than three weeks’ worth of Exxon profit.” (Update: Consumerist reader oeolycus points out that several newspapers are misrepresenting Exxon’s profit: “Their NET INCOME was $11 billion. Net profit is closer to $5 billion.”) In this case, “excessive” seems to be related to what Exxon claims is appropriate under maritime law. Additionally, Exxon says it’s already paid “$3.4 billion in criminal fines, cleanup costs and compensation payments.”

The punitive damages would be dispersed to about 33,000 Alaskans, and Exxon is seeking to cut the per-person award from $75,000 to $30,000.

The New York Times’ coverage of yesterday’s argument is somewhat exciting to read, with Justice Ginsberg—who sympathizes with the plaintiffs—subjecting “Exxon’s lawyer, Walter Dellinger, to a rapid-fire series of questions about his central arguments,” and arguing with him about maritime law from as far back as 1818. By contrast, the Exxon-sympathetic Justice Breyer argued over how much culpability a company should accept for its employees’ actions:

“This is a very dramatic accident. It involves oil spills, and they cause an enormous amount of trouble. But there are accidents every day, and ships are filled with accidents.”

Given that punitive damages have not been the normal rule in maritime cases, Justice Breyer continued, “then it will be a new world for the shipping industry and for those who work on the ships” if the courts begin to impose them. “What principles do you have to suggest, if any,” the justice asked Mr. Fisher, “for creating a fair system that isn’t just arbitrary?”

If the Supreme Court reaches a tie on the case, the current award stands and Exxon will have to find another way to screw over the Alaskans.

“Exxon Valdez payout could be cut in half” [AP via Salt Lake Tribune]
“Justices Take Up Battle Over Exxon Valdez “ [New York Times]
(Photo: Jack Smith/Associated Press)

Comments

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  1. B says:

    “If the Supreme Court reaches a tie on the case, the current award stands and Exxon will have to find another way to screw over the Alaskans.”
    They could just dump more oil on them. It worked pretty well the last time.

  2. mikecolione says:

    Are you kidding me? Oil companies are posting record profits these last few years, and they’re going to let them off for half the original amount? Has it even been paid yet?? This happened almost 20 years ago and they still didn’t pay the money????

    Please, leave it at the original amount and lets make sure interest is added on to that!!

  3. ancientsociety says:

    $1.5B for one of the worst oil spills in US history is “excessive punishment”?

    Newsflash, SC Justices! Exxon did irreversible damage to an entire ECOSYSTEM. A $1.5B fine is getting off light.

  4. brent_w says:

    Less than 3 weeks of their profit?

    Hell, if anything they should double the fine, because clearly it wasn’t excessive enough!.

  5. bustit22 says:

    Everyone here realizes that it’s the end consumer of Exxon’s products (YOU!!) that will end up paying for this, right?

  6. m4ximusprim3 says:

    @B: Dump more oil on them, then make them wait 20 FUCKING YEARS while they appeal it to high hell. They should tie the damages to the appreciation of the price of a barrel of crude, so they have some incentive to pay it quickly.

    By appealing it for twenty years, they made 50% of those damages back due to inflation.

  7. randombob says:

    man! FUCK BIG OIL.

    Let’s hurry up and get those damn fuel-cell cars rolling of the lots in volume. I want to see these fucks out of jobs.

    Why couldn’t the Gov’t be in bed with a girl like everyone else?

  8. LoLoAGoGo says:

    $2.5 billion in 1989 probably is $1 billion in 2008 dollars… considering the ridiculous drop in the dollar and all. (Well it feels like it!)

  9. Tux the Penguin says:

    Its slightly dishonest to compare the effects of a 2.5 billion dollar punitive awards against their earnings in the current year. They were laid down in 1989. Just using the CPI’s for 1989 and the latest I could find, you’d have to inflate that by 75%. So does a 4.3 billion dollars sound right?

    I personally think Exxon-Mobile is arguing the wrong case. Should they be punished (in addition to being held responsible for direct damages) for the actions of their employee?

  10. ClayS says:

    This is absolutely insane. The damage done by the spill was astronomical. I could understand reducing the penalty if Exxon was tetering on bankruptcy, but oil companies are cleaning up (no pun intended) financially. High gas prices have treated them well.

  11. mopar_man says:

    I…don’t even know what to say about this. How stupid can the supreme court be?

  12. savvy999 says:

    “What principles do you have to suggest, if any,” the justice asked Mr. Fisher, “for creating a fair system that isn’t just arbitrary?”

    oooh oooh! I know I know! Binding arbitration!?!

  13. teh says:

    @Tux the Penguin: When said employee was a known alcoholic? When said employee routinely showed up to work drunk?

    The design of the ship also contributed significantly to the disaster: The Valdez was a single hull vessel. Once the outer hull was punctured, there was no inner hull to prevent a spill. Yes, this was (and still unfortunately is) the common ship design, but that doesn’t mean that it didn’t contribute to the accident.

  14. esqdork says:

    For anyone (including Ralph) who thinks that there is no difference between Democrats and Republicans, please note that Bush II had two SCOTUS appointments and Stevens and Ginsburg are getting on in years.

  15. crabbyman6 says:

    This is disgusting and makes me doubly sad. The fact that they’re complaining about the fine levied after causing one of the worst ecological disasters in history is sad. Secondly, the fact that $2.5 billion is only three weeks PROFIT to them makes me sad. Gee, I wonder why we’re heading for recession.

  16. IamTCM says:

    I know all you people use mass public transportation to reduce your fuel consumption. Since, obviously, the consumer has no control over “Big Oil’s” profits.

    As for the spill, I agree. They should pay out of their ass.

    But lets not complain about high prices without feeling that we need to decrease our demand or as a justification for them to pay.

  17. Buran says:

    @bustit22: Fortunately, it’s not as if there isn’t competition — mass transit (alas, not practical everywhere) and lots of other gas suppliers.

    As for why they are bitching? It’s not enough to make a profit anymore. You have to get richer than Uncle Scrooge so you can swim through a bigger money vault than he does.

  18. axiomatic says:

    Bend them over the barrel (pun intended) Exxon has had a RECORD couple of years for profits.

  19. Buran says:

    @teh: I think double hulls are now required, although I’m sure there’s some older single-hull ships around.

  20. bloatboy says:

    Oh, if only the tanker had 6001 hulls! When will we learn!

    The case will probably end in a 4-4 tie and while I am generally sympathetic to oil companies (they are routinely smeared unfairly), they need to take responsibility for their actions. $4.3 Billion would be my decision if I were in charge.

  21. cef21 says:

    Let’s not forget that we’re talking about *punitive damages,* not compensatory damages and not fines. Compensatory damages are basically the cost of the clean up plus the economic harm that’s been done. Punitive damages, on the other hand, are intended to keep the company from doing it again.

    Punitive damages are basically a windfall to the plaintiffs: tort law tries to put the plaintiff back into the position he was in before the accident — that’s compensatory damages. But, they also get to keep punitive damages.

    As the article states, Exxon has already paid $3.4 Billion in compensatory damages (including cleanup costs) and criminal fines.

    I’m not at all sure that punitives make any sense here. Does anybody believe that Exxon is likely to have another drunk captain piloting one of its supertankers? Or, more precisely, does anybody believe that imposing punitive damages will make Exxon less likely to do so?

  22. smythe says:

    Its been almost 20 years and they haven’t paid that yet???

  23. Tux the Penguin says:

    @teh: So you want to remove anyone who has a drinking problem from any maritime activities? Considering the stories my grandfather, uncles and cousins (all who work in the oil transport industry aboard these tankers) you wouldn’t have enough crew to man 10% of your fleet.

    As for single hulls, you have a better point: double hull should be the standard, but they are much more expensive and there is no requirement to use them. Now, would you be willing to pony up all that extra money when you’re not required to?

  24. johnva says:

    @bustit22: Exxon cannot just raise their prices indiscriminately to cover this cost. They have to operate in a competitive environment. And even if they do raise prices, so what? In the future they might be more careful about environmental protection. The deterrent effect is important.

  25. HOP says:

    they oughta fine them half simple….the scumbags…………

  26. johnva says:

    @cef21: Yes. I do believe the possibility of massive punitive damages will be a deterrent for corporations acting irresponsibly. I bet that possibility makes them more careful in a lot of areas, not just the specific area that led to this accident.

  27. MissTic says:

    Wait a minute, wasn’t there an article link via Consumerist that described how the oil/gas market works? It’s pretty complex and confusing for anyone who doesn’t understand it. No wonder people scream and howl at the “insane profits.”
    (found it!) [consumerist.com]

    Another thing: People need to look up the term “PROFIT MARGIN”. Comparatively speaking, the banking industry has a much wider profit margin than the oil industry. Context people.

  28. shadow735 says:

    Why are they bitching, with the price of gas 2.5 billion is pocket change. I say raise it to 5 billion.

  29. shadow735 says:

    @Tux the Penguin: If I am not mistaken wasnt there an international law that requires all oil tankers to be double hulled by a specific date?

  30. hwyengr says:

    @IamTCM: Yup. I either take the train to work, or ride my bike every season except the winter. If there was an Amtrak route between Chicago and my parent’s house, I’d sell my car altogether.

  31. ohiomensch says:

    @brent_w:

    the punitive damages were already cut in half by a lower court. They have been fighting making any payment at all.

  32. flamincheney says:

    Big business wins again. What else is new? A country for the corporations by the corporations.

  33. shadow735 says:

    yep, the Oil Pollution Act of 1990 was passed, requiring, among other things, that all oil tankers traveling in U.S. waters be equipped with double hulls.
    By the end of 2015, single-hulled ships will be outlawed in U.S. waters under a federal law passed after the wreck of the Exxon Valdez, which spilled 11 million gallons of oil in Alaska’s Prince William Sound in 1989

    I think Europe has some sort of law that passed recently as well.

  34. DrGirlfriend says:

    This is sick.

  35. chelle29 says:

    So Breyers is “sympathetic” to the Oil giant, as is Roberts, Thomas will just do what Roberts and Scalia want, and Alito , appointed by Oilman/President Bush, owns “thousands” of shares of Exxon Mobil stock(estimated at between $100,000 and $250,000, according to the PBS NewsHour)
    Gee, not very hard to guess the outcome of this one.

    from the Washington Post:
    Exxon Mobil, the giant oil corporation appearing before the Supreme Court yesterday, had earned a profit of nearly $40 billion in 2006, the largest ever reported by a U.S. company — but that’s not what bothered Roberts. What bothered the chief justice was that Exxon was being ordered to pay $2.5 billion — roughly three weeks’ worth of profits — for destroying a long swath of the Alaska coastline in the largest oil spill in American history.

    “So what can a corporation do to protect itself against punitive-damages awards such as this?” Roberts asked in court.

    The lawyer arguing for the Alaska fishermen affected by the spill, Jeffrey Fisher, had an idea. “Well,” he said, “it can hire fit and competent people.”

    The rare sound of laughter rippled through the august chamber. The chief justice did not look amused.

  36. EBounding says:

    Exxon should pay for the environmental damage (although it’s difficult to quantify environmental problems).

    But what benefit is it to anyone to take their profits away just for the sake of taking their profits away? It doesn’t make any sense. Everyone is invested in oil in some way. Your retirement portfolio is probably invested in oil. If not, it’s likely invested in a company that does invest in oil. Your insurance company invests in oil. If their investments are not profitable, your rates will not go down or they’ll increase.

    They also don’t just sit on these profits while chomping on their cigars. They reinvest it to expand exploration and research more cost-effective technology. Both these things are key to reducing fuel costs.

  37. johnva says:

    @chelle29: Apparently he wasn’t amused at being called on his own BS?

    The fact is, corporations need not worry about these massive punitive damages if they don’t break the law and don’t act negligently.

  38. mycroft2000 says:

    @EBounding: It’s called “punitive damages.” It’s punishment for wrongdoing, just like jail time for any petty thief, and is meant as a disincentive for fucking up again. If they’re forgiven these damages, they’ll have few qualms about repeating their crimes, and any corporation Exxon’s size would not hesitate long to commit just about any crime for the sake of profit, if they knew they could get away with it.

  39. chelle29 says:

    from the article:
    “The punitive damages would be dispersed to about 33,000 Alaskans, and Exxon is seeking to cut the per-person award from $75,000 to $30,000.”

    sure some will get money who were in no way affected by the spill, but the majority were people whose livelihood was severely affected by the spill. Many of these people were working on the water fishing, or in the service industry providing for the people who made their living from the pristine waters. When the fisherman aren’t able to work they aren’t the only ones hurt.. entire communities turned into ghost towns.
    Exxon’s screw up in hiring a drunk and cutting corners for single hull cost people dearly, and they deserve something, this is not just about hurting the poor oil company.

  40. choinski says:

    Not hailing from Alaska, I’m curious how this very Republican State will react to the fruits of its Conservative Republican support for Conservative Republican Supreme Court judicial appointments. Screwed out of your livelyhood by Big Energy interests? At least you got to vote against gay marraige, immigrants, flag burning or whatever you were told was really really important in your life.

  41. oeolycus says:

    None of you have read the news release I guess. Their NET INCOME was $11 billion. Net profit is closer to $5 billion. News sources do this ALL the time to inflate and exaggerate corporate “profits.” Read between the lines guys!

    Net income is WAY different than net profit. I’ve submitted the link for verification (pdf).

    [www.exxonmobil.com]

  42. johnva says:

    @oeolycus: Oh no, they’re only making $5 billion in profit?! However will they afford a $2.5 billion judgement of punitive damages?

  43. crabbyman6 says:

    @johnva: Don’t forget that that’s only one quarter too. I mean, they only took in $40 billion in 2007. And yes, I take public transportation every single day(unfortunately).

  44. royal72 says:

    what’s the point?

    we’re paying for it every time we put the key in the ignition. might as well cut it to zero and give it back to the general populace with lower gas prices.

  45. @bustit22: Given that it’s coming straight out of NET PROFITS after twenty years of litigation and fighting, I don’t think the customer is going to be paying for it, because we already did.

    Let me spell it out for you: We’ve been paying Exxon’s legal fees for twenty years. They still manage to make enough profit to cover the awarded judgement amount in three weeks of sales.

    Dense much?

  46. Landru says:

    @mikecolione: They should adjust it for inflation, too.

  47. crankybureaucrat says:

    @choinski: I do hail from Alaska and people here are kind of pissed. While nobody up here would call themselves environmentalists, most people make money from the relatively clean environment (from commercial fishing, to charter fishing, to tourism). What happened in Valdez is tragic and some people have never recovered financially from the damage to the commercial fisheries. People here get upset when their environment gets destroyed (see Pebble mine, all Cruise ships, and this spill)

    Also, my brother-in-law is a captain/able seamen and found out something interesting about this spill. Apparently the captain wasn’t even on deck, it was the first mate that was guiding the ship. (Captains are supposed to be on deck when in inside waters–some sort of liability thing.)The lookout posed on the bow radioed SEVERAL times that they were in the wrong part of the channel (buoys were on the wrong side of the boat) . The first mate ignored it, until it was too late and they hit something. All crew on the boat hear the radio conversations. This all stinks of gross negligence to me.

  48. shadow735 says:

    @EBounding: Sorry man but where should we expect those fuel costs to be reduced? All I see is it going up, So are they investing it in alternative energy so that when the oil does run out they can jump right in and still be in a great position to hold us hostage?

    I see the new technology but its going very slowly and it is very expensive at the moment and as far as I can tell it’s the car companies and energy companies not the oil companies funding it.
    All in all, even though I am getting fleeced when I fill up at the pump I am glad that gas prices are increasing. I hope they quadruple. It just means new and green alternative energy will become more available and cheaper. Gas and oil are soon going to become an ostracized commodity at least in the developed part of the world.

  49. Landru says:

    @bustit22: That doesn’t have anything to do with anything. Even if it’s true, but it probably isn’t.

  50. punkrawka says:

    Is Exxon Mobile a new cell phone carrier? Exxon Mobil was the only oil company I had heard of.

  51. dcndn says:

    They did a horrible job at clean up, as the beaches and waters are still dirty. There’s still oil under the rocks you turn over at seaside, you can’t eat the shellfish, and the livelihood of thousands of fishermen was taken away. $2.5 billion isn’t enough, and $0 is so astoundingly arrogant, it shows what little regard Exxon has for the people it has harmed. The original punitive damages should stand, and Exxon should be tasked with undertaking a thorough cleanup.

    Also, if you think more profits for oil companies will result in lower gas prices, you are living in an extreme fantasy.

  52. choinski says:

    @crankybureaucrat: Then to my point – if Alaskans historically support Conservative Republican ideology that favors large corporations, can they really be pissed when the result of that support in fact favors Exxon over their own economic interest?

  53. oeolycus says:

    @johnva

    I made no statement on whether or not they should pay. They should–and they should make good on their cleanup promise.

    But inaccurate news reporting is why there is so much mass confusion on issues like this. No matter if the issue is justified or good, a news organization shouldn’t inaccurately report the facts to fan the flames of outrage. It’s so readily apparent that Exxon did NOT make 11 billion in profit, but I count 7 or 8 news organizations on the front page of Google claiming that.

    They do this every time companies post profits. I always see this mixup of income vs. profit.

  54. HootieMac says:

    @Tux the Penguin: From wikipedia: “All single-hulled tankers around the world will be phased out by 2026, in accordance with the International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships, 1973.[18]“

  55. PølάrβǽЯ says:

    @royal72: Agreed. I say sure, let them only pay half the fine, and in turn, they can sell us gas at half the price. Then the people DO win!

  56. RStewie says:

    The Supreme Court should reinstate the previous amount, and Exxon should be held liable for civil damages to those affected by the spill. This whole farce is just another indication of how the mighty have already fallen. It’s only going to get worse, people.

  57. jeff303 says:

    @randombob: Forget hydrogen fuel cells – less efficient and more expensive than batteries. Just get a pure plug-in car (or plug-in hybrid).

  58. mjsager says:

    @bustit22:

    Yes. I don’t like people’s lives being destroyed by someone who isn’t liable.

    If I destroyed an entire bay, you better bet I’d be fined to clean it up and forced to reimbursed those I hurt.

    If the supreme court rules in favor of Exxon, I think the only tactic that can be used against Exxon is negative publicity. Someone should organize Exxon Awareness Day.

  59. selectman says:

    @royal72: Punitive my friend, as in PUNISHMENT. And how do you think Exxon’s competitors, you know, the ones who didn’t cause the world’s worst environmental disaster, would feel about Exxon getting off the hook based on your logic?

    And why exactly would this raise prices? Wouldn’t this be an opportunity for competitors to gain market share based on temporarily lower relative operating costs?

  60. shadow735 says:

    @jeff303: as of right now, but you have to remember the fuel cell technology is still relativly new, give it another 5-10 years of development. Hydrogen fuel cells are very efficent but the kicker is the production of the hydrogen it uses right now it takes more energy to create the hydrogen then it saves thru the use of the fuel cell.

  61. ClankBoomSteam says:

    Wait… OUR Supreme Court is considering putting over a billion dollars back in the pockets of a corporate juggernaut like Exxon? Say it ain’t so!

    I am SO moving out of this country. The USA is dead.

  62. royal72 says:

    @selectman: how exactly is the oil industry, as a whole, competitive rather than a monopoly? as a group, they set the cost of oil to enth degree to get as much for it as they can, while making sure there’s enough demand to support the market.

    same thing with the cable/satellite industry. short of squabbling amongst themselves for a few extra customers, do you really believe it’s a competitive market for the consumer?

  63. BillyMumphry says:

    Obviously no one here understands jackshat about where oil companies make their money. Big oil profit center is the extraction and refinement of oil (which is used for a lot more than gasoline) and natural gas. Consumer gasoline is a LOSS for (most) oil companies. They make far more off your purchases of cigarettes, milk, and beer than filling up your suburban (or prius). Also please take a look at profit MARGIN you accounting wizards. I think you will find it far less than that of banks, pharma, and tech.

    Moreover, oil companies are taxed atrociously for so-called “Windfall profits”. This is not the case for any other industry.

    As for the court decision, it should be noted that Exxon paid 300mm in a class action for the aforementioned 30,000 Alaskans (outside of the cleanup costs etc). Additionally, every justice said that they would be in favor of cutting the punitive damages, even your (the collective) favorite Clinton appointees! Read more at the LA Times: [tinyurl.com]

    I still wait for the day the Consumerist stops tying profit (what companies are in business for!) to anti-consumerism.

  64. @bustit22: Taxpayers pay as well. Here’s something funny about the tax code. Exxon can take whatever they pay out in punitive damages in a summary judgment as a business expense. They get a HUGE tax shield, dollar for dollar, against earnings. So, I dunno why they are even fighting it. You’re talking $2.5B today (it WAS big money to them in 1988, it isn’t anymore), and they get to keep that (rather than pay taxes on $2.5B) much more in April, 2009. Improves their balance sheet and their other financials, thereby improving stock price.

    Meanwhile, there is a tax payment shortage on the judgment amount, which will be made up by all the rest of us. Including the Alaskan settlement recipients. Who will all likely be moved into a higher tax bracket when the income is considered. But yeah, they pay, and we shoulder the load through higher gas prices (to keep earnings up) and higher taxes or fewer services (to keep the deficit stable). Everyone loses.

    Which isn’t to say they shouldn’t just pay the damn thing already.

    “then it will be a new world for the shipping industry and for those who work on the ships”

    Uhm, Justice Breyer. It would be a world in which the shipping industry doesn’t ship with rusty, leaky hulls or alcoholic captains. In other words, they act like any other industry that is subjective to punitive damages. duh.

  65. Trai_Dep says:

    So why don’t we pass a law saying that Conservative Supreme Court justices have to live on the oil-ruined shores in-between court sessions? And eat only food that is caught from there? Bet they’d change their vote in a NYC minute.

  66. tasselhoff76 says:

    The point that is being missed by so many is this is really an attempt to put another chink in the fabric of punitive damages, as many corporations have been appealing cases and lobbying for years that punitive damages are unconstitutional or illegal, and these arguments are gaining traction.

  67. econobiker says:

    @savvy999: I am with you there on the arbitration.

    Come on ExxonMobile. Pay the fine already- you just had a bonus year in 2007 so dig in and get it done with…

  68. LyndaK says:

    The amount Exxon “says” it paid for the clean up, did NO good. There is still oil seeping up and killing fish,clams, birds, otters, seals and plant life…Prince William Sound will never be the same in “our” lifetime and maybe not the next lifetime either. The least Exxon could do is pay those that have lost their life of being able to fish, dig clams and kill ducks to eat as they have done for hundreds of years..Exxon has taken that away.Then there are the fishermen that lost their way of life…Exxon ruined a way of life…The coastal way of life has been deleted thanks to a drunken Capt. that was put aboard a ship for the Exxon Mobile Co…A Capt. with a history of excessive drinking. A history that Exxon was well aware of.

  69. LyndaK says:

    @BillyMumphry:
    I am one of those 33,000 Alaskan’s that you SAY has been paid 3 million….Check my bank account.!! The 33,000 have been paid NOTHING!! We have waited for almost 19 years for the promised that Exxon made at a meeting in Cordova. That promised was ” We ( Exxon ) will make you whole again”….We are still waiting while Exxon goes on making huge profits and crying “too excessive”!! So apparently you are the one that does not know jack sh- -!!

  70. LyndaK says:

    @mycroft2000:
    Read a book called ” Exxon Valdez 18 Years and Counting” by Kellie Kvasnikoff if you really want to know the things that Exxon has done world wide!! It will make you sick.

  71. LyndaK says:

    @LyndaK:
    That should have been 300 million as was stated by Billy Mumphry….Could have been 300 Billion, the 33,000 Alaskans have still received NOTHING…

  72. Residentdrunkgirl says:

    Admiralty law…completely different. Tons of fun.

  73. crankybureaucrat says:

    @choinski: That’s a pretty good point. Frankly, I feel that many people don’t view it this way. In the past, the government of AK has looked out for the residents AND sold out to big business. Usually to the detriment of big business. (Just look at the new tax policy for operating in Alaska–the most costly in the world). Here, corporations that operate in the state have been forced to prove their worth (read: pay out the nose) to Alaska and its residents. I can’t say I speak for the whole state but those who are the most upset are those who make their living on the water. These folks, usually fishermen, tend to be fiercely independent and more liberal than your stereotypical Alaskan republican.

    This is an interesting political place. As a liberal federal employee it’s doubly entertaining.

  74. BillyMumphry says:

    Well if you know anything about class actions, Lynda, you should know to look for about $20. Ask your lawyer about the rest. Please note that calling St. Barth’s is long distance.

  75. Chris Walters says:

    BillyMumphry wrote:

    Additionally, every justice said that they would be in favor of cutting the punitive damages, even your (the collective) favorite Clinton appointees!

    No. The articles I’ve read—including the LA Times article BillyMumphry references in the comment quoted above—make no mention of what side Justices Stevens and Thomas are on. Considering the New York Times and LA Times both mention a chance of a tie, the implication is Stevens and Thomas are both in support of leaving the damages as they are. But we don’t know for certain.

    Additionally, there are only two Clinton appointees, Ginsburg and Breyer. Breyer is in favor of reducing the amount, while Ginsburg isn’t.

    Although the media is spinning it as a potential tie, it looks more likely to come down to a 5-3 vote in favor of reducing the amount (provided Stevens and Thomas side with Ginsburg, which is a total guess at this point).

    Other than those two Justices, everyone else on the Supreme Court was appointed by a Republican president—either Ford, Reagan, or one of the two Bushes.

  76. Chris Walters says:

    @BillyMumphry wrote:

    Well if you know anything about class actions, Lynda, you should know to look for about $20.

    Yes. Class action lawsuits = deeply broken.

  77. Chris Walters says:

    @oeolycus: Re. your net income point — thanks for the info. I’ve updated the post.

  78. ELWmusic1 says:

    Yeah, the oil companies may be making a large profit, but that money is not just going into thier pockets. All of the oil companies reinvest most of thier profits in finding new technologies to drill deeper for more oil. It’s the same thing as a computer company taking it’s large profit and reinvesting that money to make faster computers. i don’t hear anyone bitching about Apple’s or Microsoft’s large profits in the last quarter.

  79. Trai_Dep says:

    @ELWmusic1: Ha ha ha. Hee hee hee. Ho ho ho.

    Lee R. Raymond, who retired in December, was compensated more than $686 million from 1993 to 2005, according to an analysis done for The New York Times by Brian Foley, an independent compensation consultant. That is $144,573 for each day he spent leading Exxon’s “God pod,” as the executive suite at the company’s headquarters in Irving, Tex., is known.

  80. BugMeNot2 says:

    @ELWmusic1:

    “Almost 15 years after the spill, a team of scientists at the University of North Carolina found that the effects are lasting far longer than expected. The team estimates some shoreline habitats may take up to 30 years to recover.”

    Microsoft/Apple never fucked the environment this bad due to negligence. I really hope all these people defending Exxon are astro-terfing and not really that stupid.

  81. TechnoDestructo says:

    @brent_w:

    They haven’t done it again, have they?

    Still…we’re talking about one of the three biggest non-government industries in the state of Alaska stabbing the other two biggest industries (fishing and tourism) right in the fucking heart. There is nothing wrong with making them pay, and pay big.

  82. snidelywhiplash says:

    @Trai_Dep: God pod, eh? Hm. Sounds like it’d be a good target. If I was Exxon, I’d be on the lookout for pissed-off Alaskan fishermen w/ rocket launchers.

    I’m not sayin’…I’m just sayin’.

  83. doctor_cos wants you to remain calm says:

    @Trai_Dep: Amen to that, brother. “Reinvesting” my Aunt Edna.
    And @BillyMumphry, don’t you have an Exxon board meeting to go to already?

    Making money is fine by me, but when you get to screw over the environment on a regular basis as well as get the gubbamint to squash research into anything (alternate energy?) that would hurt your bottom line…you have a shall we say unfair advantage and are worthy of our ire.
    In other words, who gives a shit if it was 10% or 4%, you earned it through having the gubbamint in your back pocket so you don’t have to play fair, so go DIAF.

  84. notallcompaniesareevil says:

    @oeolycus: I think a lot of this analysis is misguided, but a mistake to support my view is still a mistake. What on earth are you talking about? As close I can tell you are subtracting out capital expenditures from net income which is incorrect on numerous levels. Please let me know. Thanks.

  85. LionelEHutz says:

    A billion here and a billion there, then soon we’re talking about real money.

  86. TechnoDestructo says:

    @LionelEHutz:

    If this hadn’t been an instance of one multi-billion dollar industry shitting all over two other multi-billion dollar industries, we’d probably be looking at much smaller numbers.

  87. paulkruger says:

    Of course EXXON can’t afford it now…they have to send that money to help pay for John McCain’s campaign. You don’t think a Republican Supreme Court would short change a Republican politician’s chances of election ??