NJ’s $225M Exxon Deal Could Reflect Holes In $9B Claim

March 11, 2015 – In The News

David Restaino was quoted in the Law360 article “NJ's $225M Exxon Deal Could Reflect Holes In $9B Claim.” Full text can be found in the March 9, 2015, issue, but a synopsis is below.

New Jersey's decision to settle an $8.9 billion suit against ExxonMobil Corp. over refinery pollution for $225 million could imply its case on damages was much weaker than it appeared.

The gap between the earlier, multibillion-dollar claim for natural resource damages and the proposed settlement leaves unanswered questions in a 11-year-old case over hazardous discharges that impacted 1,500 acres of wetlands.

Environmentalists and lawmakers have argued the deal grossly undervalues the damages at issue, but the administration has stressed that it's the single largest environmental settlement with a corporate defendant in the state's history. A catastrophic judgment for the state could have set a dangerous precedent, says David Restaino.

“It doesn't send a message that 'You can beat us, why pay?'” Restaino said about the proposed settlement. “That's a heck of a big number, and I don't think it's going to provide an incentive for other parties to litigate to the ends of the earth.”