August 13, 2008

Exxon Valdez Plaintiffs' Lawyers Comment on Interest Ruling (or Lack Thereof)

The Associated Press has this story on the U.S. Supreme Court's decision not to decide whether the plaintiffs in Exxon Shipping Co. v. Baker are entitled to interest on their $507 million punitive damages award. (Scroll down to see our blog post on the same topic.) The AP story has several quotes from Stanford law professor Jeffrey Fisher, who represented the plaintiffs in the Supreme Court. Fisher says the Ninth Circuit has never refused to award interest in any similar case, and he doesn't expect them to depart from that precedent here.

(Note: the AP story incorrectly states that the plaintiffs are seeking interest dating from the jury's verdict in 1994, but the plaintiffs have actually requested interest from the date of the judgment, which occurred in September 1996. See the plaintiffs' request for a Supreme Court ruling on the interest issue.)

Alaska Public Radio also has an audio report on the Exxon Valdez interest issue. In the report, Andrew Ott, an Alaska lawyer representing the plaintiffs, says it isn't surprising that the Supreme Court declined to decide the interest issue, because it's a matter of first impression that is more appropriately decided by the lower courts. He suggests that, no matter how the Ninth Circuit rules, the case may again make its way to the Supreme Court, extending the already two-decades-long life of this litigation.