ExxonMobil to Pay $150 Million for Contaminating Wells


After 12 days of deliberation, a Maryland jury awarded nearly 300 people $150 million who sued ExxonMobil over contamination of wells by gasoline north of Baltimore. It is estimated that around 26,000 gallons of gas leaked from a gas station in February 2006. Officials say that over 37 days, 675 gallons leaked every day before being detected.

Payoffs to the plaintiffs were broken down into medical expenses, emotional stress, and devaluation of property values. Awards ranged from $300,000 to over one million dollars based on the value of the homes of affected families. Medical expenses ranged from $4000 to $90,000. Families received an average of one million dollars for emotional stress. The jury did not find ExxonMobil committed fraud, thereby denying families punitive damages.

One plaintiff says the award is bittersweet. He received $1.6 million, but he is 71-years-old, his wife has cancer, and he will not be able to sell his house for five to ten years.

For their part, ExxonMobil said in a prepared statement that they took action as soon as the leak was discovered, have been cooperative with the Maryland Department of the Environment, and have already spent $38 million to clean up the leak. They said they will review their legal options before deciding how to proceed.

ExxonMobil Corp. made a record $45.2 billion in 2008.