The Court in a split decision 5-3 with one member not participating due to holding Exxon Stock slashed the punitive damages to $507.5 Million rather than the $5 billion the court had originally settled on.Â The majority opinion was given by Justice David Souter. “In the circumstances of this case, the award should be limited to an amount equal to compensatory damages, he said.”In dissent, Justice John Paul Stevens supported the $2.5 billion figure for punitive damages, saying Congress has chosen not to impose restrictions in such circumstances.Â
Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg also dissented, saying the court was engaging in “lawmaking” by concluding that punitive damages may not exceed what the company already paid to compensate victims for economic losses.
“The new law made by the court should have been left to Congress,” wrote Ginsburg. Justice Stephen Breyer made a similar point, opposing a rigid 1 to 1 ratio of punitive damages to victim compensation.
ADN article http://www.adn.com/exxonvaldez/story/446057.html
Link to court case posted by ADN http://community.adn.com/sites/community.adn.com/files/07-219.pdf
Wallstreet article http://biz.yahoo.com/ap/080625/scotus_exxon_valdez.html?.v=4