Per your recent editorial, I would like to point out that ExxonMobil has more than "paid up" for the Valdez accident.
Exxon did not spend more than $3 billion on only "the cleanup and state and federal lawsuits," as stated in your recent editorial. Exxon also spent more than $300 million on direct compensation to all those affected by the accident - and we did so immediately and voluntarily. An Alaska jury several years later determined that the actual spill damages to individuals and businesses amounted to $287 million and the Anchorage trial court commended Exxon for "responding with its people and its pocketbook and doing what had to be done under difficult circumstances."
The $4.5 billion issue is for punitive damages. In other words, this money would be a windfall to the attorneys and to people who had already been fully compensated. We would further note that the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals has overturned two of Judge Holland's decisions - when he approved $5 billion in punitive damages and again when he approved $4 billion in punitive damages. To the unbiased observer, this just might suggest that there is something to ExxonMobil's arguments in this matter. I would also add that appeals in this case have not been one-sided. The plaintiffs have appealed numerous decisions - for example, they appealed the judge's reduction to $4 billion.
ExxonMobil deeply regrets the Valdez spill. But we made a commitment to the people of Alaska that we would stay with the cleanup until the state and federal governments - not Exxon - said the cleanup was complete, and we did so. We said we would make everyone whole who was affected by the spill - and we did so. We said we would take action to make sure a spill like Valdez never happened again - and we did so. These are not actions that warrant outlandish punitive damages. They are the actions of a company that had a terrible accident and responded in a responsible manner.
Media Relations Manager
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