How long does a lawsuit take? Consider the March 1989 crash of the Exxon Valdez oil tanker, which sent 11 million gallons of crude oil into the pristine waters of Prince William Sound, Alaska. The outrage was immediate, and five years later, a federal jury hit Exxon with an unprecedented $5 billion in punitive damages. At the time, it amounted to one year’s profits. This award was to be split between the 33,000 people whose lives and livelihoods were damaged from the spill.
On Wednesday, 2/27/2008, the case of Baker v. Exxon Shipping will finally…after three trips through US District Courts and two stops in the 9th US Circuit Court of Appeals…land in the US Supreme Court. Nineteen years later, much has changed. More than 6,000 of the 33,000 original claimants are dead, and the $5 billion Exxon is fighting to protect is the value of three weeks of current profits. (from New Jersey Lawyer)