Exxon Gas Leak Lawsuit Results in $495M Compensatory Award

A Maryland jury has awarded nearly $500 million in compensatory damages to families and businesses that were affected an underground gasoline leak in 2006, which contaminated well water and impacted property values in the area.  

The Maryland environmental tort lawsuit was filed by a group of 154 families and other property owners from Jacksonville, Maryland, who accused the Exxon-Mobile of trying to cover up the release of an estimated 25,000 gallons of unleaded gasoline from one of the lines that transported the gas to a fuel dispenser.

While no one has been reported ill from the release, property owners say that the spill will require many residents to receive medical monitoring for years to ensure their health and that the groundwater contamination has lowered property values in the area surrounding the now-defunct gas station.

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The Baltimore County jury agreed with plaintiffs, finding that Exxon attempted to deceive the community about the nature of the incident, why the gas station was closed and the extent of the damage from the spill. The jury found Exxon responsible for the diminution of property value, fraud, negligence, nuisance, strict liability, trespass, and says the company should be held liable for those charges as well as emotional distress and paying for medical monitoring.

Deliberations continue today as the jury tries to decide on punitive damages and considers a request by plaintiffs that additional damages be awarded to punish the company and deter similar actions in the future.

Exxon-Mobil has argued that it has acted in good faith to clean up the spill and is working with the state to remediate the site, which is one of 515 leaking underground storage tank (LUST) remediation sites currently underway across the state, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

When the spill first occurred, the company put up a sign saying that the station was closed for upgrades and did not immediately warn the public that there had been a spill. Monitoring wells close to the station contained 15 feet of gasoline when the leak was first discovered.

In 2008, Exxon-Mobil entered into a consent decree to clean up the site. And in 2009, the first group of families, involving about 90 plaintiffs, sued the company and received $150 million in compensatory awards. Exxon is currently challenging that verdict.

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3 Comments

  • brianJuly 7, 2011 at 2:35 pm

    case cite?

  • JoanJuly 1, 2011 at 12:28 am

    Thank God there is some justice in this world and the people who have illness from this spill and whose property has lost it's value will be compensated. There is no way that Exxon did not know what was going on and there is no way they would not try to hide it to avoid paying damages. They have gotten out of paying up in the past with other much bigger spills (like Valdez) and will always try a[Show More]Thank God there is some justice in this world and the people who have illness from this spill and whose property has lost it's value will be compensated. There is no way that Exxon did not know what was going on and there is no way they would not try to hide it to avoid paying damages. They have gotten out of paying up in the past with other much bigger spills (like Valdez) and will always try again. They have no moral integrity - it's all about money for them.

  • NemoJune 30, 2011 at 4:20 pm

    I have two personal injury claims against Exxon Mobil for the death of two adult nationals in Papua New Guinea, a developing nation located north of Australia and east of Indonesia. Exxon Mobil through its subsidiary Esso Highlands Ltd is developing one of the world's largest Liquefied Natural Gas project. One of its contractor was negligent in not felling a huge fig tree in the middle of its road[Show More]I have two personal injury claims against Exxon Mobil for the death of two adult nationals in Papua New Guinea, a developing nation located north of Australia and east of Indonesia. Exxon Mobil through its subsidiary Esso Highlands Ltd is developing one of the world's largest Liquefied Natural Gas project. One of its contractor was negligent in not felling a huge fig tree in the middle of its road construction site when in fact it was a real safety hazard to human lives. The expatriate supervisor refused to fell the tree even though the employees asked him to do so and even though a local who had his family hut nearby asked him to fell the tree. A week later the tree fell because of heavy rain and wind. I have overwhelming evidence that the contractor and Esso Highlands never usually have certified safety officers on sites to observe, identify and advise for safety hazards to be eliminated or removed. This is a serious compromise of safety. Safety in an extraction industry is of paramount importance. An expert investigation report compiled by a hired consultant based in Australia points to the contractor's negligence. The contractor's employees statements point finger at the expatriate supervisor's negligence. Even the contractor's own investigation report states that it made a serious mistake to clear the site because it venture outside the approved survey markers and into a cultural heritage site and destroyed the environment. Attempts to negotiate settlement out of court has been unsuccessful because Esso Highlands and its contractor have been arrogant and bullish despite very cogent evidence of civil liability. Could you please help me publish this and invite interested law firms in the United States that can help me institute civil claim against Exxon Mobil on the basis of vicarious liability arising from its subsidiary and its contractor's negligence. I have all the relevant documentary evidence ready to supply to a firm that is willing to help me. Thank you very much.

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