July 2, 2008

Anthony Sebok Findlaw Essay: "The Lessons of the Supreme Court's Recent Decision Granting a Huge Victory to Exxon in the Exxon Valdez Oil Spill Case"

Findlaw.com features this essay by Anthony Sebok, a law professor at the Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law.

In light of Sebok's prior writings, it is not surprising that he finds fault with the Court's adoption of a one-to-one ratio in Exxon Shipping Co. Unlike the dissenters in that case, however, Sebok does not criticize the majority for improperly delving into substantively law. He views the majority opinion as an appropriate exercise of common law rulemaking; he just thinks the opinion's reasoning is misguided because it rests on a misunderstanding of the historical purpose of punitive damages.

Sebok concludes by making one of the same observations that we made about the Exxon Shipping Co. decision: that the unusual circumstances of this case yielded a five-justice voting alignment that's not likely to be repeated if the Supreme Court takes on another punitive damages case.