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The U.S. Supreme Court will not hear an appeal by ExxonMobil to overturn a $236-million verdict against the company for decade-old water contamination charges in New Hampshire.
On Monday, the Supreme Court refused to hear the appeal. The case is now officially closed after a drawn-out legal drama that began in 2003.
That year, the state of New Hampshire’s Attorney General sued ExxonMobil and 21 other companies for contaminating the state’s water supply through the addition into the state’s gasoline of a compound called MTBE, which is said to be highly toxic.
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Eventually, the companies switched additives away from MTBE and towards ethanol, but the lawsuit argued that the toxic compound had filtered through to the drinking water.
The 21 other companies settled out of court for a total settlement of US$136 million; however, Exxon pursued the case further.
After a three-month trial that started in January 2013, Exxon lost in a U.S. District Court in Concord, when a jury ruled that the company had practiced negligence. The jury awarded the state of New Hampshire US$236 million.
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Exxon has argued that regulations mandated additives be mixed with gasoline, and that local gas stations and other businesses should have also shared some of the responsibility. It has also argued that the state of New Hampshire violated its due process rights during the course of the lawsuit.
The case is ExxonMobil v. New Hampshire, U.S. Supreme Court, No. 15-933.
By Charles Kennedy of Oilprice.com
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Charles is a writer for Oilprice.com