April 3, 2008

U.S. Supreme Court Will Consider Exxon v. Grefer Cert. Petition on April 18

The U.S. Supreme Court has placed Exxon v. Grefer on its April 18 conference list, according to the court's online docket for that case. As we mentioned in a prior post, this case involves a $112 million punitive damages award and involves the following issues (as framed by Exxon's cert. petition):

1. Whether the Court of Appeal on remand denied due process when it continued to punish ExxonMobil for harm to nonparties, left intact a punitive damages award without finding that ExxonMobil's conduct was reprehensible as it affected plaintiffs, and held that the jury could "consider the harm suffered by both parties and non-parties regardless of the type or similarity of harm suffered."

2. Whether, contrary to the decisions of other federal and state appellate courts, a court may remedy a concededly tainted punitive damages trial by affirming the maximum punitive damages award due process permits, rather than by ordering a new trial.

3. Whether due process permits punitive damages twice the amount of compensatory damages in a case of economic injury when compensatory damages are $56 million and plaintiffs' actual harm is no greater than $1.5 million.