The Supreme Court will not decide whether ExxonMobil should pay interest on punitive damages owed to residents of Alaska who were affected by the 1989 Exxon Valdez oil spill. According to an article in the Associated Press, the Court determined that the Ninth Circuit should determine whether the corporation must pay up to 14 years of interest.
As we mentioned in a previous entry, ExxonMobil brazenly asked the Supreme Court to determine that the interest it owed should be calculated from the date that the Court reduced the punitive damages it owed to just $507 million (10% of the original amount awarded by a jury) in June. We noted the absurdity of this request considering that in this quarter alone, ExxonMobil reported more profits than any American corporation in our nation’s history, $11.68 billion. In order to put that into perspective for everyone, this means that the comparatively paltry punitive amount set by the Court is only 4% of ExxonMobil’s profits this quarter alone.
Still, the decision yesterday by the Court to let the Ninth Circuit determine how much interest the mega-corporation owes bodes well for the residents of Alaska whose lives have been ripped apart by this case for almost 20 years. As an attorney for the Alaskan residents, Jeffrey Fisher explained, the Ninth Circuit has never ruled against awarding interest in a similar case and there is “no reason to think the court would deviat[e] from its precedent.” We certainly hope so.