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OT.Chief Justice Roberts defends Exxon!!!!!!

Discussion in 'Uncategorized Threads' started by Bocephas, Feb 29, 2008.

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  1. Bocephas

    Bocephas Well-Known Member

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    Yesterday the Supreme Court heard oral arguments on how much money Exxon Mobil should be forced to pay as damages for its Exxon Valdez oil spill 19 years ago.

    The Washington Post notes that chief justice John Roberts appeared (bothered)
    that Exxon might have to pay for its destruction.

    What bothered the chief justice was that Exxon was being ordered to pay $2.5 billion--roughly three weeks worth of profits for destroying a long swath of the Alaska coastline in the largest oil spill in American history.So what can a corporation do to protect itself against punitive-damages awards such as this?Roberts asked in court.The lawyer arguing for the Alaska fisherman affected by the spill,Jeffery Fisher,had an idea."Well,he said it can hire fit and competent people.

    This shouldn't surprise anyone.This guy was hand picked and put in there for life.

    Yes,19 years and still in court.What a joke.

    Bocephas
     
  2. ou.3200

    ou.3200 Well-Known Member

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    This appears to be taken out of context. It looks like the Chief Justice was just asking a question. Perhaps the punitive damages are excessive. Comparing the award to Exxon profits is no measure. Should the lawyers and fishermen be made multi-millionaires as a result of this rather than being justly compensated for their losses?
     
  3. Brian in Oregon

    Brian in Oregon Well-Known Member

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    A friend of my wife is a fisherman up there. She's been trying to get a settlement since day one. The settlement is tied up in court, and apparently it is not transferable to heirs. So it's in Exon's favor to simply stall until most of the claimants die of old age.
     
  4. Bocephas

    Bocephas Well-Known Member

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    Brian, I have a friend that works for the oil corps. up there.

    He says right at 30 percent have already died.

    Bo
     
  5. crusha

    crusha TS Member

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    And just think...Ralph Nader is indirectly responsible for this.


    (How many votes did he suck away from AlGore?)
     
  6. phirel

    phirel TS Member

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    The damaged individuals should be compensated but the above posters have omitted the fact that Exxon can not pay anyone unless it gets the money from someone else. The payment will come from both the stock holders and customers of Exxon. The major stock holders are people who are state employees (teachers, firemen, etc.) and workers represented by unions.

    Pat Ireland
     
  7. porky

    porky TS Member

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    Don't forget that Roberts is one of the Justices that favors European laws.
     
  8. admiral Art

    admiral Art TS Member

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    Back the tanker up.

    Let us look at the legal, as opposed to emotional issues here.

    This court case is NOT about <i>compensatory</i> damages, those have been paid by Exxon. These are the damages that Exxon had to pay to compensate people for their provable claims of loss.

    This suit is about <i>punitive</i> damages. Punitive damages are NOT about putting money in the pockets of victims or others that suffered economical hardship, or compensating them for their losses. Punitive damages are designed to PUNISH the defendant for bad conduct, and to discourage the defendant (and others) from doing their bad acts again.

    An analogy:

    Your kid is driving your car and accidentally runs a red light and hits a car. People are injured, their car is totaled. You (or your insurance carrier) have to pay their provable claims for damages. Medical bills, loss of the car, pain & suffering, etc. These payments are NOT to punish you, but rather to <i>compensate</i> the injured parties for their legitimate losses.

    Now if your son had <i>deliberately</i> ran the light in order to hit the car on purpose, say because the driver of the other car had made a disparaging comment about him on TS.Com, THEN he (your son) might be subject to punitive damages, because he needs to be punished for a willful bad act. But do YOU need to be punished because you let a licensed driver use your car, who then went out an committed a bad act that you could not foresee?

    In the Exxon case, Exxon has already paid the damage claims assessed by the courts.

    THIS case is about the PUNISHMENT of Exxon.

    Chief Justice Roberts is merely posing the legal question:

    Well what willful bad act did Exxon do? They hired a licensed (by the US Government) ship captain, who proceeded to drink on the job and run his ship ashore. The owners, that is to say the stockholders, of Exxon did no bad act requiring punishment. How will the assessment of <i>punitive</i> damages discourage the stockholders of Exxon from doing this again? They did nothing wrong in the first place.

    The 8 justices that are hearing this case will decided if ANY punishment is proper for the stockholders of Exxon, and if it is proper, they will determine what amount of money would discourage such actions from them and other persons (companies) from similar actions in the future.

    Remember, the decision they render on this case, will apply to the car crash scenario above. Would you think it fair that you after you paid off everyone for their loss, bills, injuries, and pain & suffering; that THEN you had to pay a huge sum, in essence a fine, because your son did it on purpose.
     
  9. phirel

    phirel TS Member

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    admiral Art- Nice post. You put this question in a much clearer light for me.

    Pat Ireland
     
  10. otnot

    otnot Active Member

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    Well guys and gals, until you have had your living taken away from you and the whole community where you live is affected by what Exxon did. You really don't know what your talking about. This spill has reeked havoc on the small fishing communities of Prince William Sound that cannot have a price put on it.

    Pat, the 5 billion to pay for this has been in a court orded trust fund drawing intreste since 1994. It has since been reduced to 2.5 billion by the 9th district court of appeals. This fund has made more intrest than the orginal amount deposited.

    To this day you can go to the beaches of Prince William Sound and find oil and see the sheen of oil on the water. There once was, a million ton biomass of Herring, now there is none. There used to be clams,kelp and thriving fishing communities now there are none. I cry everytime I see, pictures of the destruction that was done to the most beautiful part of Alaska.

    Yes Exxon paid some of the fishermen but it only averaged $15,000 per claiment. There are now only 36,000 people left to claim what was legally awarded to them. This only amounts to $69,444 each. Is this enough to give you back a way of life?

    Jim Trujillo
    Ed's Kasilof Seafoods
     
  11. Hap MecTweaks

    Hap MecTweaks Well-Known Member

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    Someone is responsible for "drunk and boating" in addition to the paltry amounts paid! That, in considering the overall effect this had on those communities! Hap
     
  12. ChairborneRanger

    ChairborneRanger Member

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    admiral Art "nailed it" in terms of a clear and effective explanation----nice job!
     
  13. admiral Art

    admiral Art TS Member

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    OTNOT

    You are letting emotions and feelings for those who suffered cloud your legal thinking.

    If the $15,000 (Average) [in 1994 dollars] <i>compensatory</i> damage awards were not enough, that is an issue to be taken up by the parties who settled THAT case. There was either a settlement or a judge (or jury) award made in that case. Just becasue you (and others) believe that the Avg. $15K [in 1994 dollars] was not enough (AND I DON'T DOUBT YOU FOR A MINUTE) does not mean that the victims can bootstrap their claims for <i>compensation</i> into the punitive damages case.

    THIS case is not about the suffering of those in Alaska. It is about punishing a wrong doer. Did the stockholders do, or NOT do, anything that a reasonable person would have done, or not done, in a similar set of circumstance.

    The suffering aside. Nobody, Exxon included, denies the damage.

    THIS CASE, the PUNITIVE DAMAGE AWARD is about an abstract, emotionless, unfeeling legal principal.

    The justices will not favor or disfavor "Big Oil", nor will the favor or disfavor "Small Fisherman and Villagers"; they will make their decison(s) based on logical, rational, legal thought.

    Hap, Exxon has already paid what they were ordered to pay ONCE. If that was not enough, then the fault is not with the Supreme Court then or now. If these folks need help, I, for one, would say lets give them some of the "Katrina" money.

    Lastly, please do not take this personal, I am arguing a <i>legal</i> precept, not personal feelings.

    ..

    To others: Thanks for the Kudos.
     
  14. phirel

    phirel TS Member

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    admiral Art- You clearly understand and explained the situation. But, I must ask, are you absolutely certain that the Court will "make their decision(s) based on logical, rational, legal thought" ? Would should be a better term to use than will?

    Pat Ireland
     
  15. Tripod

    Tripod Well-Known Member

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    Iowa man!!
    Exxon Mobil has been labeled by the worst adjective ever by the liberals. Also in the mix are tobacco companies and drug companies. The word is BIG. When my wife calls me BIG boy I always took that as a compliment. Do you suppose she is really making fun of me? I wonder.....
     
  16. Bocephas

    Bocephas Well-Known Member

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    Admiral-Art,good points.No one has brought up the fact that Exxon deliberately chose not to use it's key Rader system because it was very costly to operate.

    Single hull tankers are much cheaper than double also.

    If Exxon gets off with just a slap on the wrist.I am sure they will.

    We are giving a green light to all big corporations to let the captain of the ship be the fall guy.I have not seen a CEO yet that did not surround theirself with fall guys.

    Regards

    Bocephas
     
  17. otnot

    otnot Active Member

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    Admiral. Yes I let my emotions influence my judgement because I am one of the one's that were damaged. I lost my whole summers worth of income due to the negligence of a drunk captain hired by Exxon to pilot a ship through the Valdez narrows.

    I own a company that processes seafood. Now if one of my employee's was on drugs or drunk and managed to contaminate one of my products and someone were to die because of it. Would I not be held responsible for the actions of that employee knowing that that employee has a habit? When I find out an employee is on drugs or drinking heavily I fire them. I don't give them the chance to make a mistake because of their known addiction. Exxon knew about Hazlewoods drinking problems.

    At the time of the spill Exxon was handing out money faster than people could take it from them. They were paying people with any kind of boat thousands of dollars a day for the use of it. Yes they spent 3 billion dollars scubbing rocks with high pressure steam and managed to recover a few thousand gallons of weathered oil but they did more damage during the clean up than if they had just left it alone. The airforce wanted to napalm the spill when it first occured but Exxon didn't want to loose an oil tanker. This spill was not and is not confined to just Prince William Sound. The oil migrated S.W for 900 miles.

    This is the second oil spill that has occured in my lifetime in the waters surrounding Alaska, but they occur almost monthly in Prudoe Bay. It's time that the oil companies are made to pay because the only thing they understand is the bottom line. Until that time it is cheaper for them to pay for spills than to prevent them. The double hull tanker legislation was supposed to put a halt to oil spills but the oil companies did an end around that by hiring foreign shipping companies to haul their oil.
     
  18. Brian in Oregon

    Brian in Oregon Well-Known Member

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    <i> "If the $15,000 (Average) [in 1994 dollars] compensatory damage awards were not enough, that is an issue to be taken up by the parties who settled THAT case. There was either a settlement or a judge (or jury) award made in that case. Just becasue you (and others) believe that the Avg. $15K [in 1994 dollars] was not enough (AND I DON'T DOUBT YOU FOR A MINUTE) does not mean that the victims can bootstrap their claims for compensation into the punitive damages case."</i><br>
    <br>
    The sad fact is, PUNITIVE damages are the only possible FAIR compensation these people can hope to get. The puny compensation they got was but a mean fraction of their yearly income, and the damage done destroyed their income from fishing for decades. It may not be correct to seek punitive damages to make up for lack of damage awards, but frankly under the circumstances my opinion is to hell with what's correct, but what's just.
     
  19. David Knapp

    David Knapp TS Member

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    Punitive damages are not just for "Punishment". They are also used as a deterrent against future damage, caused by negligence. In other words they are used to keep the party that committed the act from doing it again. Punitive damages need to be large enough to ensure this.

    Admiral Art this quote is simply not true. "they will make their decison(s) based on logical, rational, legal thought". This will be a political decision if there ever was one.



    David Knapp
     
  20. crusha

    crusha TS Member

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    I'm not picking sides here...just hashing out thoughts.


    One comment made by an Exxon attorney, which made sense, was that punitive damages against corporations are designed to discourage companies from ATTEMPTING TO PROFIT FROM WILLFUL WRONG DOING. In other words, if habitually dumping waste in the ocean allows you to avoid hazmat disposal fees, this would be a punishable offense under tort because it was WILLFUL. On the other hand, the tanker running aground was clearly an accident, and Exxon did not WILLFULLY do it with the intent of making money off it. In fact, they lost money big-time. No attempt was being made to enrich their coffers by wrecking the tanker. By this reasoning (and I'm not necessarily saying it's correct), a key component of whether an act is punishable under tort (as opposed to simply being redressable) is whether there was a willful attempt to profit from the action.


    He stated that since the tanker accident was not a willful act, and that Exxon was not attempting to profit from running the tanker aground, and that it in fact suffered severe losses from the action, that it should not be punishable under tort.


    A possible retort to that is...yes, they made no profit from running the tanker aground...but they profited from not investing in double-walled tankers, etc. Another way of saying this might be, (as one poster said above), the aim of punitive awards ought to be making it more expensive to redress spills than prevent them - the reasoning being that, if it's cheaper to simply clean the spill up than to prevent it, what's the incentive for prevention?).


    I can see and respect both points of view...which, in this case, is probably why we're having to have the Big Kahunas decide it for us.


    This, like many cases before the Court, will be very interesting - for those with the rational capacity to consider it based only on the merits of the law, and not armchair emotion.
     
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