Today, the Ninth Circuit bid a not-so-fond adieu to the case in which a jury awarded $5 billion in punitive against Exxon for the 1989 grounding of its tanker, The Exxon Valdez, on Blight Reef in Alaska’s Prince William Sound. The panel cut the award to $2 billion on due process grounds. One judge dissented because "the punitive damages award in this case is not ‘grossly excessive’" and therefore met constitutional requirements. In re The Exxon Valdez, No. 04-35182 (9th Cir. May 23, 2007).
The court also declined to review the case en banc. Two judge dissented — one because he believed that the $2 billion award still violated due process and the other because he thought Exxon shouldn’t have to pay punitive damages for putting a backsliding alcoholic in charge of a supertanker.