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View Diary: Taibbi, Naked Capitalism Re: Our Bipartisan "Fraudemocracy" (261 comments)

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  •  The system is rigged against its "Victims" (35+ / 0-)

    and the Fraud is systematic.

    Case in point, Exxon Valdez, took 20 years to pay their victims,
    and what a Payment it WASN'T!

    AMY GOODMAN: 1994, the jury rules you get $5 billion. What happened?

    RIKI OTT: The jury -- it took three weeks to come up with that decision. They didn’t just pull it out of the air. The jury asked the question: how do we holding a corporation this large accountable to people? And the jury decided they had to tie profit to punishment. So, at the time, 1994, that was one year’s net profit for Exxon, $5 billion. And that way, you can hold -- you know, big corporation, big punishment.

    What the Supreme Court did was they severed that link, and they instead linked profit to damages. Well, there’s a problem. We are still incurring ongoing damages in Prince William Sound, because we’re not fishing herring, for example, so we didn’t get all of our damages. Meanwhile, this one-to-one ratio of punitive to damages sets--is a problem now for everybody in America. We all lost our ability to hold big corporations accountable. This was the threat of unlimited liability. Just the mere threat held these corporations accountable to consumer safety laws, public health laws, environmental protection laws. We’ve lost that now. What we need is Congress to, what I call, overturn this by taking up the issue of punitive damages and asking the question: How do we hold these large corporations accountable?

    AMY GOODMAN: What kind of relief have you gotten at this point, Riki Ott? What have your communities gotten? What has Exxon Mobil paid out?

    RIKI OTT: We have gotten ten cents on the dollar. Most of my friends have been able to claim--to receive 7 to 10% of what they have actually lost. At this point in time, twenty years later, I even have some friends whose individual share of that punitive damage award is not--it’s less than what they will have to pay their bankruptcy lawyer.

    SCOTUS ruled that Exxon should incur only very limited liability. In their near-sighted wisdom, they discounted the Jury, the overturned the Appeals Court, and ruled the Corporate Person known as Exxon Mobil, should only be subjected to:

    A 1-to-1 linking of penalties with baseline damages ... not even the "actual ongoing damages", mind you.  Just placate the plaintiffs and move along everybody.  Nothing to see here.  Just another day of Big Business.

    Where then, is the "economic incentive" for such Oil Profiteers, to clean up their act, when they can just appeal for decades, and finally end up with such favorable "Golden" rulings like this:

    Penalty = Profits  (of 1 Year)  was morphed into just ...

    Penalty = Damages   (judged to be equal to Just 4-Days of Exxon Profits)

    Shoot! That's just another one of those incidental Costs, of Doing Business in America!

    Giddy up!

    The press is impotent when it abandons itself to falsehood. --Thomas Jefferson to Thomas Seymour, 1807

    by jamess on Sun May 02, 2010 at 07:06:36 AM PDT

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