The Supreme Court has agreed to review the 2.5 billion dollars in punitive damages owed by Exxon Mobil for the Exxon Valdez oil spill in 1989.
The justices say they will consider whether the company should have to pay any punitive damages at all. If the court decides some money is due, Exxon is arguing that 2.5 billion dollars is excessive under laws governing shipping, and compared to what the high court has allowed before.
Eleven million gallons of oil spilled into Alaska's Prince William Sound when the Exxon Valdez supertanker ran aground on a reef. A federal appeals court has already cut in half the five billion dollars in damages awarded by a jury in 1994.
The case is expected to be heard in the spring.