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Supreme Court Refuses to Hear Exxon Appeal of $112M Individual Property Damage Award



The Dallas-Fort Worth Star Telegram has the AP report on a declined cert petition. Normally such petitions are not very worthy of note, but when an individual receives $112 Million in damages eyebrows are naturally raised.

The case began in 1997 when a former Louisiana judge, Joseph Grefer, and his family sued Exxon, alleging that a contractor working for Exxon had contaminated the family's land with radioactive waste. The contractor was entrusted with cleaning pipes for Exxon Mobil and other companies and left the waste, which occurs naturally as a result of oil and gas production, on the judge's property. None of the Grefers were sickened by the waste, and the only damage claimed was property damage. Nonetheless, a Louisiana jury awarded the Louisiana judge $1 billion in punitive damages and $56 million in compensatory damages. On appeal the punitive award was reduced to twice the compensatories, or $112 million. [How much was this judge's land worth, anyway?]

Lawyers for the Grefers had urged the court to reject Exxon's appeal because the company had already paid the damage award (to avoid huge interest payments).

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Rafael Mangual
Project Manager,
Legal Policy
rmangual@manhattan-institute.org

Katherine Lazarski
Manhattan Institute
klazarski@manhattan-institute.org

 

Published by the Manhattan Institute

The Manhattan Insitute's Center for Legal Policy.