Exxon Valdez Oil Spill Settlement: Exxon to pay $507.5 million
On June 15 2009, Exxon Mobil Corp was ordered to pay $507.5 million in punitive damages for the Exxon Valedez Oil Spill that occurred off the coast of Alaska in 1989. The $507.5 million settlement is only "a fraction of the $5 billion in punitive damages originally awarded to fisherman, Alaska natives, business owners and other litigants by a jury" in1994.
After the 1994 court ruling requiring a settlement of $5 billion, Exxon launched a series of appeals. At a trial in 2006, the jury agreed to cut the settlement in half to $2.5 billion. In June 2008, Justice David Souter ruled that punitive damages cannot exceed the approximately $500 million Exxon has already paid to victims of the oil spill and their families.
Interestingly, the $507.5 million settlement only amounts to about 1/5 of the $2.5 billion cost of cleaning up the oil spill, which flooded the alaska coastline with 10.8 billion gallons of oil and is known as one of the most destructive man-made environmental disasters in history.