In court

Published: Thursday 31 July 2008

Valdez Victims Spurned: Almost 20 years of legal battle ended in frustration for victims of the 1989 Exxon Valdez spill, as the US supreme court reduced an earlier damages award of $2.5 billion to $507 million. The new figure amounts to just $15,000 for each of the plaintiffs, a group of 33,000 commercial fishermen, cannery workers, native Alaskans and others affected by the disaster, called the worst oil spill in US history. In its decision, the five-to-three majority proclaimed the damages awarded earlier were excessive, setting a precedent for how much juries can punish a company for an employee's actions. The spill was blamed on the failures of individual crew members and Exxon's poor supervision.

Iraq Sues Big Oil: In a US federal court, the Iraqi government filed a civil lawsuit against Chevron and dozens of other companies that paid kickbacks to Saddam Hussein during the UN's oil-for-food programme. These kickbacks, the suit charged, cheated the Iraqi people out of the benefits of the US $67 billion dollar programme, implemented between 1996 and 2003. The suit follows a criminal investigation which led to convictions of individuals and oil companies, including Chevron.

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