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Exxon to Appeal Punitive Damages Award

It?s an old story with new wounds, as Exxon was ordered by U.S. District Judge Russel Holland to pay $4.5 billion, plus interest, to 32,000 Alaskan fishermen, Alaska natives, landowners, small businesses, and cities.

The Supreme Court ruled that the ratio of punitive to actual damages should not exceed 9-to-1 ratio. The plaintiffs? attorneys calculate that the actual loss caused by the spill at more than $500 million, which could justify $4.5 billion in payments.

Exxon attorneys argued for a lower ratio on the grounds that injury to the plaintiffs was only economic. However, Holland agreed with the plaintiffs? attorneys who argued that the higher award was justified because of Exxon?s conduct in allowing Capt. Joseph Hazelwood to master the ?Exxon Valdez,? even though the company knew he had alcohol problems.