Exxon Mobil Corp. has asked the U.S. Supreme Court to review a $2.5 billion fine against the oil company for the 1989 Valdez disaster, the nation’s worst tanker spill, according to Reuters.
Exxon filed a petition on Monday asking the high court to overturn the punitive-damages verdict that the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals demanded be paid for the 11 million-gallon disaster.
That total is half the amount ordered by a federal court jury in Anchorage in 1994. It was since reduced by the 9th Circuit Court to comply with what it concluded were constitutional limits. ExxonMobil is defending itself by arguing that maritime law does not allow imposition of such a large punitive award.
“The Ninth Circuit’s inability to discern or even acknowledge any substantive maritime-law principles limiting the size of this extraordinary punitive award demonstrates the urgency of the need for this Court to articulate such limits,” Exxon argued in its petition.
The company also argued that the punitive award was wrongly calculated, thus causing an unacceptably high multiple of actual compensatory damages. ExxonMobil debated that punitive damages should be no more than $25 million, based on actual compensation given to commercial fishermen.
The Supreme Court has the right to hear or reject the company’s appeal.