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Federal Court Halves $5 Billion Valdez Judgment

A federal appeals court cut in half a $5 billion jury award for punitive damages against Exxon Mobil in the 1989 Valdez oil spill that smeared black goo across roughly 1,500 miles of Alaskan coastline.

The case, one of the nation's longest-running non-criminal legal disputes, stems from a 1994 decision by an Anchorage jury to award the punitive damages to 34,000 fishermen and other Alaskans. Their property and livelihoods were harmed when the Valdez oil tanker struck a charted reef, spilling 11 million gallons of crude oil.

It's the third time the appeals court ordered the Anchorage court to reduce the $5 billion award, the nation's largest at the time, saying it was unconstitutionally excessive considering U.S. Supreme Court precedent.

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