Exxon Ordered to Pay $480 Million Over Valdez Spill

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Exxon Ordered to Pay $480 Million Over Valdez Spill

ANCHORAGE -- Exxon Mobil Corp. must pay the victims of the 1989 Exxon Valdez oil spill $480 million more in interest and cover $70 million in its own appeals costs, a federal appeals court ruled.

A three-judge panel of the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals doubled the Big Oil company's costs in settling the lawsuits brought by fishermen, cannery workers, marine services and eco-tourism purveyors whose livelihoods were ruined by the country's worst oil spill, according to Los Angeles Times report.

The court costs are associated with Exxon's successful appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court of an Alaska jury's 1996 award of $5 billion in punitive damages for recklessness in the grounding. The spill dumped 11 million gallons of crude oil into the waters of Prince William Sound, the newspaper noted.

In 2006, a 9th Circuit panel cut the award to $2.5 billion. A year ago, the U.S. Supreme Court further slashed the amount to $507.5 million. The oil company began paying that amount to Alaskans in December, according to the report.

In a 5-3 decision, the high court deemed Exxon's conduct "worse than negligent but less than malicious" in deciding to reduce the punitive damages.

The average plaintiff was awarded $15,000. By setting the interest rate clock back to the original 1996 jury award, the 9th Circuit decision could double that amount for each plaintiff, according to the report.

Exxon spokesman Tony Cudmore told the newspaper the oil company "will review the opinion before commenting further."

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