Alaskan Sorrow Over Court Decision

Is it any surprise that all across Alaska plaintiffs are reacting to the Supreme Court’s decision reducing the punitive damages from the Exxon Valdez accident to about 500 million dollars for all plaintiffs to share? Lives and businesses were destroyed and plaintiffs get practically nothing.

Andrew Wills lost his fishing business when the herring population was destroyed. He borrowed money and opened a bed & breakfast, bookshop and cafe. He had looked forward to his share of the settlement which he thought would be $85, 000. He would pay off some debt.

“This decision is a giant cold slap in the face,” said Garland Blanchard, 59, a third-generation fisherman who said he lost his marriage along with his two fishing boats, house, cat and dog to financial pressures caused by the spill. Mr. Blanchard expects to receive less than $100,000 from the settlement, down from the $1.2 million he had previously expected.

“Our lives and businesses have been destroyed, and we get basically nothing,” he said. “It’s pathetic.”

Alicia Jensen of Cordova owns the Killer Whale Cafe in Cordova and says that the spill and legal battles have dominated conversations for over two decades. She said, “This has been the primary focus of this town for most of my life. I’m glad that its over, and everybody can get on with our lives.”

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