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Robert F Kennedy, Class Action lawsuit against Feds on behalf of Louisiana Fishermen?

Just a rumor, but still, good to see… Robert F Kennedy jr and the Riverkeepers Waterkeepers alliance taking on a class action lawsuit against the Government on behalf of commercial fisheries? Aside from the weirdness of supporting an industry generally hostile to environmental causes, someones gotta take on these oilsoaked single-perspective engineers and the CEO’s that love to pay them so well to cut corners. Cause isnt that what good engineers do? cut corners more efficiently? Efficiency uber alles, indeed.

Update: JFK jr and Riverkeepers announce class action lawsuit over oilspill… also interesting article on the Roberts court effect on whats still to come: (huffpost)

Exxon Shipping Co. v. Baker, is a classic tale of justice both delayed and denied, abetted by the pro-big-business faction on this Court. In the Exxon case, after 19 years of litigation, approximately 32,000 commercial fishermen, Native Alaskans, and property owners were awarded compensatory damages of around $500 million, or roughly $15,000 per plaintiff – not much if your entire life and livelihood have been wrecked. But the jury also awarded $5 billion in punitive damages. Not surprisingly, Exxon appealed.

Along the way, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals reduced the original $5 billion award to $2.5 billion, but that wasn’t far enough for this Supreme Court. In a 5-3 decision (with Justice Alito recused), a new rule for maritime law was invented on the spot: punitive damages cannot exceed compensatory damages. The original $5 billion award was cut in 2008 to $500 million, the same as the compensatory award. After 19 years of obstruction and delay, the Court willfully substituted its judgment for that of a jury and gave Exxon a $2 billion gift. The people actually harmed by the actions of Exxon? Not so much.

What’s startling about this decision, other than the outrageous and palpable unfairness of it, is the Roberts Court’s willingness (should we say eagerness?) to take it upon itself to do what legislatures are supposed to do. In this case, determine what kind of caps, if any, should be applied to punitive damage awards in maritime law or in any other setting, for that matter. [full article on Huffpost]

April 30, 2010
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