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SUPREME COURT CUTS CLASS ACTION PUNITIVE DAMAGE AWARD IN EXXON VALDEZ CLASS ACTION FROM $2.5 BILLION TO $500 MILLION

United States Supreme Court Sets 1:1 Ratio for Punitive Damage Awards under Federal Maritime Law and Reduces $2.5 Billion Award in Exxon Valdez Class Action to $500 Million, Ending 20-year Class Action Fight

The United States Supreme Court issued a stunning ruling yesterday, holding that a punitive damage to compensatory damage ratio of 1:1 is a “fair upper limit” in federal maritime cases. The opinion brings an end to the class action lawsuit filed in the aftermath of the Exxon Valdez oil spill in Alaska nearly 20 years ago. That class action eventually resulted in a $5 billion punitive damage award, which the Ninth Circuit reduced to $2.5 billion. The Supreme Court reduced that award further, setting it at $500 million in light of the $507 million compensatory damage award. The Class Action Defense Blog will post a summary of the Supreme Court opinion on Monday, June 30. The opinion may be downloaded below.

Download PDF file of Exxon Shipping v. Baker