January 30, 2008

Friends in High Places: Plaintiffs Garner More Amicus Briefs in Exxon Valdez Case

The brief filed yesterday in the U.S. Supreme Court by the State of Alaska in the Exxon Valdez case (Exxon Shipping Co. v. Baker) brings the total number of amicus curiae briefs in support of the plaintiffs to 13. That's compared to only five amicus briefs on Exxon's side. (Click here for links to all the briefs.)

That's a bit of a turnaround from the prior punitive damages cases in the Supreme Court, where the defense amici significantly outnumbered those for the plaintiffs. In State Farm v. Campbell, for example, there were 19 amici for the defense and only six for the plaintiffs.

Alaska has a split-recovery statute which provides that 50 percent of all punitive damages awards go to the state, but unfortunately for the state in this case, the $2.5 billion award was rendered in federal court under federal law.