Exxon Verdict: Cruel and Unusual Punishment?
Conservatives have once again benefited from that thing they claim to hate: a bleeding-heart soft-headed judge. The Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals (one of the Far Right’s favorite punching bags) has ruled that the $5 billion verdict against Exxon for their 1989 oil spill amounts to “cruel and unusual punishment.”
In 1994 an Anchorage jury ordered Exxon to pay $5 billion for their oil spill which devastated 1,500 miles of Alaskan coastline and ruined the livelihoods of 34,000 Alaska residents. Under the Appeals Court ruling, Exxon only has to pay roughly half of that original $5 billion verdict.
Here’s a little perspective: Exxon “earned” $36.1 billion last year. That was the highest earnings ever by any American corporation.
Exxon still might appeal this decision. Their lawyer called the oil spill “a tragic accident that Exxon Mobil deeply regrets.” He said “In our opinion, the facts of this case do not warrant an award this size.”
The oil spill occurred because the pilot of the Exxon Valdez was drunk. Exxon was aware of his ongoing drinking problem but continued to leave him in command of their oil tankers.
There’s no sense in learning from your mistakes when it’s so much easier to just purchase the legal system.