The Mobile, AL law firm of Cunningham, Bounds, Crowder, Brown and Breedlove has been on a roller coaster ride recently. On November 1 of this year, having fought a two-week civil trial, they won a $100 million+ verdict against two companies, Haliburton Energy Services and ShawCor Ltd., in a hazardous waste case. These two companies were joint owners of a Mobile facility which had once coated pipes for carrying oil and gas along the ocean floor.
Cunningham Bounds represented Dirt Inc., the landfill that had received 260 tons of residue from that pipe-coating work, residue containing a lot of mercury. Dirt Inc. had buried it 45 feet deep over a 20 acre section of its total 240 acres. The questions was: who should pay for the $100 million cleanup? Dirt, Inc. was seeking that removal cost from the two companies who passed it to them for disposal. Their big win made the day for Cunningham Bounds.
However, two hours later on November 1, after hearing about this victory, Cunningham Bounds heard that the Alabama Supreme Court had cut the jury award previously won in 2003 against ExxonMobil from $3.6 billion to just under $52 million. The Court’s decision, by an 8:1 margin, was that ExxonMobil had not committed fraud, and no punitive damages were necessary, although the State of Alabama was still owed some compensatory damages. So much for the happy day at Cunningham Bounds. We lawyers have to be resilient.