SCOTUScast 7-2-08 featuring Ted Frank

Exxon v. Baker

July 2, 2008

Theodore H. Frank

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 SCOTUScast 7-2-08 featuring Ted Frank - MP3
Running Time: 00:14:33

Bio for Ted Frank

On June 25, 2008, the Supreme Court decided Exxon v. Baker, a case involving the legality under federal maritime law of the $2.5 billion punitive damages award resulting from the Exxon Valdez oil spill. The Court considered three questions: whether a ship owner may be liable for punitive damages without acquiescence in the actions causing harm, whether punitive damages have been barred implicitly by federal statutory law making no provision for them, and whether the award of $2.5 billion in this case is greater than maritime law should allow in the circumstances. The Court was equally divided on the owner’s derivative liability, and held that the federal Clean Water Act does not bar a punitive award on top of damages for economic loss, but that, as a matter of maritime common law, the award here should be limited to an amount equal to compensatory damages. The American Enterprise Institute’s Ted Frank discusses the case. 


Oral Argument - February 27, 2008:


Decision - June 25, 2008:


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