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U.S. Supreme Court

High Court Allows Expanded Arguments in Exxon Punitives Case

Posted Feb 15, 2008 1:36 PM CDT
By Debra Cassens Weiss

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The U.S. Supreme Court is giving lawyers for both sides an extra 15 minutes to argue over the propriety of a $2.5 billion punitive damages award in the Exxon Valdez oil spill.

The court will consider whether the verdict is excessive under maritime law in oral arguments scheduled for Feb. 27, SCOTUSblog reports. Exxon argues the punitive award is the largest in U.S. history and "larger than the total of all punitive damages awards affirmed by all federal appellate courts in our history,” the Washington Post reported in an October story on the case. Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr. owns as much as $250,000 in Exxon stock and has recused himself in the case.

In other action today, the court agreed to allow lawyers for TV’s “Judge Alex” to file a post-argument brief supporting his assertion that his contract dispute with a former manager should be heard by a state labor commissioner under a California law governing talent agencies. The former manager says the dispute should go to arbitration as called for in their contract.

The new brief concerns a Jan. 28 ruling by the California Supreme Court interpreting the law governing talent agencies, SCOTUSblog says. The California court ruled the law applies to managers as well as agents.

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