Environment: Spill Going On

SEVENTEEN YEARS AFTER THE VALDEZ OIL DISASTER, EXXON IS STILL FIGHTING A PUNITIVE-DAMAGES CASE

By any measure, the $36 billion in profits that ExxonMobil earned last year is staggering. While corporate critics cavil, shareholders see a company simply doing what companies are supposed to do--earning money. Given Exxon's riches, though, the 32,677 claimants in a 17-year-old suit pursuing a $4.5 billion damage award from Exxon for its 1989 Valdez oil spill are puzzled: Why doesn't the world's largest and most profitable oil company just pay the victims and move on? Exxon recently argued its third appeal of the award handed out by a jury in 1994 as punishment for the Valdez spill, the largest in...

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