Judge Upholds ExxonMobil Verdict

A civil district judge in New Orleans yesterday upheld a ruling forcing Irving, Texas-based Exxon Mobil Corp. to pay in excess of $1 billion in damages and clean-up costs.

An Orleans Parish jury in May ordered the oil company to pay $1 billion to a Harvey, La. family who claimed that 33 acres of their property were contaminated with radioactive material, according to WDSU TV in New Orleans.

The land is the former site of an oil pipe cleaning business that had been illegally dumping radioactive water there for decades, the report said. The company was a main contractor for ExxonMobil during the 1980s and 1990s.

The jury ordered Exxon-Mobil to pay the $1 billion as punitive damages, as well as $56 million to clean up the site. ExxonMobil tried to get the decision thrown out, but after reviewing the case, a civil district judge said the initial jury ruling should stand. ExxonMobil countered that less than 1 percent of the land is contaminated. The company plans to appeal the decision.

The oil conglomerate also will be required to post a $100 million bond at a hearing Sept. 4. However, because of recent changes in Louisiana law, the judge does have the discretion to lower the bond.

There is no word yet on when the contamination clean up would begin.
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