LAWSUITS: Trouble over Oiled Waters

Trouble over Oiled Waters

When the supertanker Amoco Cadiz foundered in 1978, spewing 68 million gal. of crude oil over the beaches of Brittany, it created the worst petroleum spill ever to hit land. It also launched one of the world's stickiest legal battles. The French government and a host of other plaintiffs claimed $1.6 billion in damages.

Last week, after a decade of wrangling, a U.S. district judge in Chicago ordered Amoco to pay $85.2 million in damages and interest, the largest penalty ever assessed in an environmental case. Amoco called the sum excessive, and France's President Francois Mitterrand said the damages awarded "scarcely...

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