ExxonMobil Cleared in Suit

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ExxonMobil Cleared in Suit

ANCHORAGE, Alaska -- Exxon Mobil Corp., the world's largest publicly traded oil company, has fully reimbursed six Alaska municipal governments for expenses related to the 1989 Exxon Valdez oil spill, an Anchorage judge ruled yesterday.

The state Superior Court jury deliberated just a few hours before finding that Exxon had already sufficiently paid six local governments for impacts from the spill and threw out their claim for $30 million in damages, Reuters reported.

"The jury was convinced that Exxon stepped up to the plate, did the right thing and paid its bills," Chuck Diamond, one of the attorneys for ExxonMobil, said at a press conference following the verdict.

The plaintiffs, which included the cities of Seward and Cordova and the Alaska Native villages of Old Harbor and Larsen Bay, had asked for $12.7 million from the oil company to compensate for response work and diverted public services. With interest, the total was expected to be about $30 million.

The trial lasted nearly a month.

"The Valdez oil spill was a tragic accident that ExxonMobil deeply regrets. While certainly the plaintiff municipal governments were impacted by the spill and its response, we are gratified that the jury agreed that the municipal governments were fully compensated over a decade ago," Lee Raymond, chairman and CEO of ExxonMobil said in a statement.

The six communities' claims had been filed shortly after the spill but dismissed in 1994. A state Supreme Court verdict in 1999 reinstated the claims.

Still to be determined is whether the plaintiffs will pay Exxon Mobil's attorneys' fees and court costs, the report said. Exxon claims it spent over $2 billion cleaning up the spill. In 1991, it reached a $1.025 billion deal to settle civil and criminal charges filed by the state and the federal governments.

The 11-million gallon oil spill was the worst from a tanker in U.S. waters and polluted more than 1,200 miles of shoreline, the report said.