Editorial: Damages verdict inappropriate

Eleven years ago, the worst oil spill in history blackened Prince William Sound in Alaska. Wednesday, a federal appeals court in San Francisco overturned ExxonMobil’s $5 billion damages verdict saying it was excessive and unfair.

The only thing unfair is the damage. The once pristine Sound is still healing itself, forever marred by the millions of gallons that hit its waters and thousands of miles of shoreline.

The court set a horrendous example, while at the same time doing a huge favor for oil big whigs. Courts need to recognize juries’ damage verdicts. By not doing so, huge corporations are left unaccountable.

A Wednesday ExxonMobil news release confirms the 9th Circuit Court’s decision. According to the release, ExxonMobil took “immediate responsibility” for the accident by spending $2.2 billion on the spill’s cleanup and spending millions more on direct compensation to those hit hardest by the spill.

Big deal. They should not be commended for responding to one of the worst preventable disasters in history. Paying for damages it incurred is expected.

ExxonMobil needs to be held accountable by the government for the damage it rendered.

The court sent the case back to the lower courts to come up with a smaller damages amount because of previous Supreme Court rulings on damage awards.

According to the National Marine and Fisheries Service, who performed studies on the effects of the spill, oil still remains in the area surrounding the spill and some species have not recovered.The damage to a sensitive ecosystem is excessive. The job loss and bankruptcies local fisherman endured is unfair.

Wednesday’s ruling is the equivalent of dumping more oil into Prince William Sound and other sensitive ecosystems. ExxonMobil needs to take further responsibility for the spill it caused.