April 23, 2010

Another Law Review Note Criticizes the Supreme Court's Opinion in Exxon Shipping

We previously blogged about a student note suggesting that pro-business bias may have played a role in the majority opinion in Exxon Shipping. Here's another note criticizing that opinion: "Oil and Water: How the Polluted Wake of the Exxon Valdez has Endangered the Essence of Punitive Damages" (2010) 43 Suffolk U. L. Rev. 475.

The note uses some colorful language; it compares the Supreme Court's opinion to the Exxon Valdez itself, threatening to further pollute the already tainted waters of punitive damages law:

Beyond the perpetual ineffectiveness of the Court’s chosen path, however, there exist deeper flaws that have caused the Court to effectively disregard the fundamental objectives of punitive damages: punishment and deterrence. Nonetheless, if the Court continues to treat the punitive-to-compensatory ratio
as the barometer of constitutional due process, then fixed ratios and mathematical bright lines to cap punitive damage awards could soon become the norm. Accordingly, the flaws of this paradigm must be realized and a new standard must emerge so that the hull confining the Exxon holding to maritime law does not fracture, allowing it to seep into other areas of law and further pollute a doctrine that is already overdue for a cleanup effort.