Processing Magazine

Exxon Mobil asks court to overturn judgment

May 16, 2005
Exxon Mobil Corp., asked the Alabama Supreme Court on May 12 to throw out the largest verdict in state history, saying it was based on fraud claims that were never proven, the Associated Press reports. The company''s appeal is an attempt to strike down a $3.5 billion punitive damage judgment set by a Montgomery judge after a jury ruled Exxon Mobil cheated the state out of royalties from natural gas wells drilled in state-owned waters along the Alabama coast. In order to award punitive damages, the jury had to find that fraud occurred. In November 2003, a Montgomery Circuit Court jury awarded the state $102.8 million in compensatory damages and $11.8 billion in punitive damages. The verdict was the largest returned by any American jury in 2003, but the trial judge, Tracy McCooey, cut the punitive damage award to $3.5 billion. She left the compensatory damages untouched. Even at $3.6 billion, the judgment was larger than any other issued in 2003.