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Thread: Exxon Settlement

  1. #1
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    Angry Exxon Settlement

    From 5.5 billion reduced to 2.5 billion to what it really came out to: 507.5 MILLION.

    Here's an excerpt from the supreme court's ruling and justification for the low number:

    For example, the Limitation of Shipowners’ Liability Act
    (Limitation Act), 46 U. S. C. App. 1831, a statute that has
    been part of the fabric of our law since 1851, provides in
    relevant part:
    “The liability of the owner of any vessel, whether
    American or foreign, for any embezzlement, loss, or
    destruction by any person of any property, goods, or
    merchandise shipped or put onboard of such vessel, or
    for any loss, damage, or injury by collision, or for any
    act, matter, or thing, loss, damage, or forfeiture, done,
    occasioned, or incurred, without the privity or knowl-
    edge of such owner or owners, shall not, except in the
    cases provided for in subsection (b) of this section, ex-
    ceed the amount or value of the interest of such owner
    in such vessel, and her freight then pending.” 183(a



    Hiding behind a law established in 1851? Gimmie a ****in break. I'd like to see/hear their reactions of any wrongdoing against them or their families from huge corporation and then have their asses handed to them because of an indemnity law that is 157 years old. Giving prisoners of war a day in civil court, then this; what's next? Our supreme court has become a supreme disappointment. Commercial fishing went down the tubes for years and compensating the financial destruction for the comm guys should have been in the tens of billions, not to mention that the processors got settled quite quickly from Exxon (within a year); what a slap in the face.
    "He who is slow to anger is better than the mighty, and he who rules his spirit is better than he who takes a city." ~ Proverbs 16:32

  2. #2
    Member willphish4food's Avatar
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    Default what a crock

    So much for "punitive damages." Exon's quarterly profits last quarter were nearly 10 billion dollars- so they are "punished" with a fine of 1/20th of one quarter of one year's PROFIT- or 1/80th of their annual PROFIT, and it came down nearly 20 years after the fact. The reason Exon was originally found guilty was because they knowingly hired a drunk to run their ship- that is the exception that should have made that 150 year old law null and void. "without the privity or knowl-
    edge of such owner or owners". They DID know- and this "punishment" doesn't even qualify as a slap on the wrist.
    This would be the equivalent of fining me $425- if my GROSS income were the measuring stick. If my takehome were considered my net profit, then it would be like a $250 fine to me- handed down in 2028. What an incentive to Exon to spruce up their act!

    Presidential election coming up- ask yourself who the next president will appoint to the supreme court; that is the legacy that we will feel for many years.

  3. #3

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    Judge Holland(appointed by Reagan and a former Ted Stevens law partner,so obviously pro big business) and 12 members of the jury listened to 4 months of testimony before coming up with their decision. This was thrown in the garbage by the Supreme court. I BY GOD WILL NEVER SERVE ON ANY JURY AGAIN!

  4. #4
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    Default perspective

    I am not sure I want to get into this but I have found it difficult to understand why commercial fisherman should be compensated with the punitive damages. A UCI commercial fisherman told me he would have received 1.4 milion dollars if the 2.5 billion had stood. He now will receive about 160,000. I have no way to verify these figures but I will take him at his word.

    So I ask myself why would a UCI drift fisherman or set net fisherman receive this windfall. They were paid by Exon for their lost harvest in 1989 immediately following the spill. They did not have to pay crew shares, fuel costs, maintence costs for that year. Some took their vessels to PWS and made thousands of extra dollars in the clean up effort. Exon actually did UCI fisherman a service by paying off right away. Just two years prior to the Exon spill another spill by a less deep pocket did not act in this way at all.

    So what is special about a UCI commercial fisherman as opposed to the deck hand, or the processor, or the general public when it comes to punitive damages?

    This maybe belongs on the general forum but I have a hard time with punitive damages when someone is made whole - I tend to remove the hype of Exon since the clean up costs, the damage to their status, and the impact on shareholders already has made Exon less likely to do this again. Also, there is more responsible parties than just Exon but that is another story.

    I guess I found the courts ruling to be in line with what I think is a fair and just award.

    As a final note the UCI fishery could have been conducted in full with the small amount of oil in UCI from the Exon spill. The drift fisherman lobbied hard to be totally closed since they knew that in 1987 when fishing was allowed with oil in the inlet it complicated the lawsuit. So with less oil in the inlet the drift fleet was closed - in contrast the set net fishery operated and had the whole run come to them. They harvested the portion of fish the drift fleet would have normally harvested to the tune of 4.5 million at over 2 dollars a pound.

    There are areas and people who deserve to be made whole but punitive damages in not for that purpose. The 500 million compensatory damages did that.

    On a side note I find it interesting that most fisherman in Alaska are conservative and now they do not like the conservative court. Strange how life works.

  5. #5
    Member fishNphysician's Avatar
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    Default

    Interesting perspective nerka. Well thought out as usual.

    It was revealing to say the least. Thanks for the enlightenment.
    "Let every angler who loves to fish think what it would mean to him to find the fish were gone." Zane Grey
    http://www.piscatorialpursuits.com/uploads/UP12710.jpg
    The KeenEye MD

  6. #6

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    I was a 10 year old boy in 1989, I helped my father drift gillnet in Cook Inlet for 14 years in all. I believe my father initially received about $60,000 from Exxon, I think his deck hand received about $5,000 . We would have fished, but I believe the fear was getting oil in the gear, oil on the boat, oil on the fish, and oil on the fisherman. What's a fish worth that has oil on it? If my memory serves me correctly, there was much more oil out in the middle of the Inlet where we fished, then there was on the beach where the setnetters fish. Was there any oil on the east side beaches of Cook Inlet when the fish were running? I can't imagine there was oil if the setnetters were out fishing. Do you remember Nerka? Also, I thought the '87 Glacier bay spill caused less oil in the middle of the Inlet than the Exxon spill. I never remember actually seeing oil in '87 ('course I was only 8 years old at the time).

    $60,000 initially was a nice gesture , but had we been able to fish, my dad figures he would have cleared $80,000-$110,000 after expenses. The late '80's were the best years the commercial guys in the Inlet have ever seen, and likely will ever see. The good money didn't last very long, I feel real bad for those who bought a $200,000 permit and $100,000 boat in 1988, showed up in 1989 to fish, and received $60,000 from Exxon, when if they could have fished, they likely would have made twice that. There were really only a few good years after the Exxon spill, so they either lost the permit and boat, or are still paying on them. There hasn't been a new boat built for Cook Inlet drift since '91 or '92. The fleet is getting very old, and they haven't made any money there for at least 10-12 years. Permits were selling a few years ago for $9,000! In 1988 they were selling for about $200,000. Ouch.

    I believe the punitive portion of the settlement will end up being about $150,000 (or less) per license holder. After taxes and attorney fees, my father may get around $75,000. If you take into account he lost probably $30,000 in 1989, with interest and depreciation figured in, $75,000 isn't much. But, it's way better than nothing. When compared to Exxon's profits, the punitive damage is not even a slap on the wrist. My father is relieved the whole legal debacle is finally over and we know the outcome. 19 years is a long time to wait.

    Brian

  7. #7

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    Nerka- You may know something I don't, or maybe I know something you don't. Either way, you paint a fairly rosey picture of the drift gillnetter's outcome on the Exxon spill. I believe you to be an honest person and very well informed (thanks for all your informed posts, I appreciate them very much and enjoy reading them), but I don't believe your description of the entire situation is completely accurate. If you were a drift guy in 1989, I can guarantee your description of the whole ordeal would be much different. Just my opinion of course, and open to scrutiny. However, my father is far from a greedy man, and he doesn't believe he or other fisherman are getting a square deal from the outcome. But like I said, something is better than nothing and he seems at peace with the outcome. Are you aware if the setnetters are getting money?

    Brian

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by Nerka View Post
    I am not sure I want to get into this but I have found it difficult to understand why commercial fisherman should be compensated with the punitive damages. A UCI commercial fisherman told me he would have received 1.4 milion dollars if the 2.5 billion had stood. He now will receive about 160,000. I have no way to verify these figures but I will take him at his word.....
    May I be so bold as to ask what the market value of that UCI permit is/was?

    I'm pretty confident that it wasn't worth $1.4M.

    Could we have bought that permit back for the people of Alaska?

    Can we buy it back today?

    ....So I ask myself why would a UCI drift fisherman or set net fisherman receive this windfall. They were paid by Exon for their lost harvest in 1989 immediately following the spill. They did not have to pay crew shares, fuel costs, maintence costs for that year. Some took their vessels to PWS and made thousands of extra dollars in the clean up effort. Exon actually did UCI fisherman a service by paying off right away.....
    Yup. All true.

    Just two years prior to the Exon spill another spill by a less deep pocket did not act in this way at all.

    .....So what is special about a UCI commercial fisherman as opposed to the deck hand, or the processor, or the general public when it comes to punitive damages?...
    Expectations.

  9. #9

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    I'm not able to edit previous posts, so I want to make a correction before Nerka corrects me. The Glacier bay spill in '87 caused more oil in the Inlet than Exxon, I wrote in a previous post that it was the other way around. My mistake.

    Brian

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    Default Powderpro - maybe this will help clarify

    Quote Originally Posted by Powderpro View Post
    Nerka- You may know something I don't, or maybe I know something you don't. Either way, you paint a fairly rosey picture of the drift gillnetter's outcome on the Exxon spill. I believe you to be an honest person and very well informed (thanks for all your informed posts, I appreciate them very much and enjoy reading them), but I don't believe your description of the entire situation is completely accurate. If you were a drift guy in 1989, I can guarantee your description of the whole ordeal would be much different. Just my opinion of course, and open to scrutiny. However, my father is far from a greedy man, and he doesn't believe he or other fisherman are getting a square deal from the outcome. But like I said, something is better than nothing and he seems at peace with the outcome. Are you aware if the setnetters are getting money?

    Brian
    First, let me say I never said anyone was driven by greed. The courts ruled and if it would have gone the other way so be it. I just said I thought the punitive damage part was fair and of course the set net fisherman did have a banner year.

    So to clarify my position - if a fisherman thought he would have made 100k instead of 66k then that discussion is in the compensatory part of the lawsuit - not the punitive damage part. I would agree that the 500 million compensatory damage judgement was too low. That was set by an Alaskan jury. Also, when one joins a class action lawsuit one gives up some individual claims. So please understand that I am not questioning whether someone would have made 100k or 66 k -

    The issue for me is the punitive damages and the amount awarded. In this case the first ratio was 10:1 and then reduced to 5:1 and then to 1:1. This has nothing to do with the 100k to 66k discussion. It is purely to punish Exon. I tend to agree with the courts that punitive damages are getting out of control and therefore for maritime law a 1:1 ratio or something along that line is more in line with my opinion. I guess I am conservative on this one.

    I was in management of the fishery in 1989 and so had the perspective of a manager rather than a fisherman. However, I had lots of discussion with the leadership of the drift fleet organization. We were ready to fish and thought there was no problem but we ran into strong opposition from the drift fleet representatives. That does not speak to the individual fisherman who had uncertainity about bills and what Exon would pay or not pay so I appreciate your comments in that regard. It was stressful for the individuals who went through it. Also, I only have the UCI perspective so PWS is a different issue. I could not fathom the native villages having oil on their shores. Again, I felt they deserved more than the 500 million in compensatory damages.

  11. #11

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    I'm a conservative socially and politically, so I'm not for huge, outrageous, unjustified punitive damages. So while my family stood to gain from an outrageous punitive settlement like the original 10:1 ratio, I think a "fair" ratio would have been somewhere in the 2:1 or 3:1 area. 1:1 in my opinion, considering Exxon's size, was not even a slap on the wrist. 5:1 probably isn't a slap on the wrist for Exxon, but a reasonable line needs to be drawn somewhere.

    I wasn't in the loop on what the drift fleet reps had to say in '89, but I always assumed the drifters halted out of fear of deliverying damaged (oily) fish to the market and hurting their markets for that year and possibly years to come. But it sounds like that was a fear that was unfounded since there was little or no oil throughout the Inlet?

    One of the biggest tragedies and probably the thing that angers us the most is the length of this case. 19+ years after the spill, the case is finally settled, at the Supreme court no less. A lot of permit holders have died since the spill, so that has to be tough on their families. I'm just glad my father was young enough to see the end of this and still be able to use whatever money he gets.

    Nerka- do you remember what the overall escapement was for the Kenai that year? It seems like it went way over escapement goals, and if so, didn't that negatively effect future runs, 5-10 years later? Thanks,

    Brian

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    Default yes

    Quote Originally Posted by Powderpro View Post
    I'm a conservative socially and politically, so I'm not for huge, outrageous, unjustified punitive damages. So while my family stood to gain from an outrageous punitive settlement like the original 10:1 ratio, I think a "fair" ratio would have been somewhere in the 2:1 or 3:1 area. 1:1 in my opinion, considering Exxon's size, was not even a slap on the wrist. 5:1 probably isn't a slap on the wrist for Exxon, but a reasonable line needs to be drawn somewhere.

    I wasn't in the loop on what the drift fleet reps had to say in '89, but I always assumed the drifters halted out of fear of deliverying damaged (oily) fish to the market and hurting their markets for that year and possibly years to come. But it sounds like that was a fear that was unfounded since there was little or no oil throughout the Inlet?

    One of the biggest tragedies and probably the thing that angers us the most is the length of this case. 19+ years after the spill, the case is finally settled, at the Supreme court no less. A lot of permit holders have died since the spill, so that has to be tough on their families. I'm just glad my father was young enough to see the end of this and still be able to use whatever money he gets.

    Nerka- do you remember what the overall escapement was for the Kenai that year? It seems like it went way over escapement goals, and if so, didn't that negatively effect future runs, 5-10 years later? Thanks,

    Brian
    The goal was exceeded by a signficant amount. The sonar count was about 1.6 million and there was reduced production from that brood year. This was brought out in the court case and I assume part of the compensatory damages but I am not sure since I do not know how the jury reached the figure.

    There is no doubt we could have fished in 1989. Having the experience of 1987 we actually knew how to do it. However, there was concern about statewide markets and I know Bristol Bay did not want their markets impacted by any oiled fish making it to customers. I think we could have kept that from happening.

  13. #13

    Default **punitive**

    Means **punishment**.

    Punitive damages are not intended to compensate anyone for actual losses, nor to make anyone whole. They should be an exaggerated negative consequence to make d*mn sure they don't let it ever ever happen again.

    An analogy. Go shop lift a six pack of beer, get caught, and do time in jail. The time in jail has nothing to do with compensating the store owner for the $8 six pack of beer. The jail time has everything to do with upholding the social contract that forbids stealing.

    With this piddling little award, the profiteers at Exxon, or any other polluting industry, can now simply tally up their environmental destruction as a basic cost of doing business.

    Exxon, and every other polluting industry, has just been given a permit to pollute, issued by unelected untouchable intellectual elite judges, bought & paid for by big business to safe guard corporate profits.

    There should be an immense social contract against devastating our environment, backed up by immense punitive damages.

    Nerka, I can understand your perspective about the possibly inequitable benefit that the recipients of the punitive damages will receive.

    Would you instead be ok with throwing the CEO and Board of Directors of Exxon in Jail for say, a decade or so?

    That would model the punitive damages that everyone else must pay when they break the law. Unless of course they own the judicial system.

    End rant, flame away . . .

    Deep River

    The precautionary principle says First, do no harm.

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    Default jail would be fine

    Quote Originally Posted by Deep River View Post
    Means **punishment**.

    Punitive damages are not intended to compensate anyone for actual losses, nor to make anyone whole. They should be an exaggerated negative consequence to make d*mn sure they don't let it ever ever happen again.

    An analogy. Go shop lift a six pack of beer, get caught, and do time in jail. The time in jail has nothing to do with compensating the store owner for the $8 six pack of beer. The jail time has everything to do with upholding the social contract that forbids stealing.

    With this piddling little award, the profiteers at Exxon, or any other polluting industry, can now simply tally up their environmental destruction as a basic cost of doing business.

    Exxon, and every other polluting industry, has just been given a permit to pollute, issued by unelected untouchable intellectual elite judges, bought & paid for by big business to safe guard corporate profits.

    There should be an immense social contract against devastating our environment, backed up by immense punitive damages.

    Nerka, I can understand your perspective about the possibly inequitable benefit that the recipients of the punitive damages will receive.

    Would you instead be ok with throwing the CEO and Board of Directors of Exxon in Jail for say, a decade or so?

    That would model the punitive damages that everyone else must pay when they break the law. Unless of course they own the judicial system.

    End rant, flame away . . .

    Deep River

    The precautionary principle says First, do no harm.
    Jail for some corporate leaders is on my list of punishment. Of course we must remember that if we throw stones we should not live in a glass house.

  15. #15
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    Default

    Personally I can't believe that Cook Inlet drift netters are going to receive more than PWS fishermen... utterly amazing at the distribution, but whatever.

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