The millions of dollars Exxon Mobil Corp. has surrendered as punishment for the Prince William Sound oil spill have started hitting the streets, nearly 20 years after the disaster.
Several commercial fishermen who joined in the lawsuit against Exxon reported receiving direct deposits in their bank accounts Monday. Paper checks are expected to go out in the mail in the next week.
The payments mark the beginning of a process to distribute $383 million among nearly 33,000 commercial fishermen and other plaintiffs.
Lawyers for the plaintiffs and Exxon continue to battle in court over whether the oil company owes interest on the punitive damages award. If so, the interest could roughly double the total payout.
An Anchorage jury originally decided in 1994 that Exxon owed $5 billion for the 11-million-gallon oil spill, which disrupted many of the state's commercial fisheries and sullied miles of beaches. Over many years, however, Exxon's lawyers succeeded in whittling down the amount to a fraction of the jury award.
Lawyers will deduct about 22 percent from each payment as compensation for pressing the epic class action against Exxon.
Well, it's nice that those fisherman are finally getting their compensation...from $5 billion cut down to $383 million. The best legal team money can buy surely. Looks like the plaintiffs team is doing pretty well for themselves as well.