The Maryland Court of Appeals overturned a jury’s verdict this week against Exxon Mobil for its role in the 2006 gasoline leak that contaminated the well water of homes in nearby Jacksonville. Two years ago, a jury awarded the homeowners $1 billion in punitive damages against Exxon.
The Court found that Exxon did not willfully defraud homeowners. According to retired Baltimore County Circuit Court Judge John Fader, “Punitive damages in Maryland can’t be awarded unless there is fraud proven.” The Court also struck down portions of separate verdicts totaling $650 million in compensatory damages.
This, of course, leaves the residents shocked and disappointed, many of which unknowingly drank the water and even made baby formula with the water. At this point, the homeowners’ only option is to appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court – which is doubtful at best. A sad, but expected, outcome for these homeowners.
There were two opinions in this case. You can read them here and here.