Today the Supreme Court will hear the case of Exxon Shipping vs. Baker, the case of the Exxon Valdez oil spill that has lasted nearly twenty painful years for the victims of this environmental disaster.

Jeopardy! recently featured the victims’ plight as an answer on the popular show. Yet, these victims still don’t have their answer.

On March 24, 1989, the Exxon Valdez ran aground on Bligh Reef and dumped 11 million gallons of crude oil into Prince William Sound.  Five years later a federal jury in Anchorage awarded punitive damages to the fishermen, businesses, and affected communities.  However, to date, Exxon has paid none of the $4.5 billion punitive damages award. While ExxonMobil earned $36 billion in 2006, a record for a single company, it STILL has not paid any of the punitive damages to people harmed by this disaster.

The thousands of fishermen, food processors and others wait for justice, but unfortunately, many of those waiting have passed away.

What has ExxonMobil done?  While the company has paid for the value of the lost fish, it has never compensated the plaintiffs for their other continuing damages including, in the words of one trial judge, the fact that “the social fabric of Prince William Sound and Lower Cook Inlet was torn apart.