A nine-judge Court of Special Appeals panel has denied a motion to reconsider its decision to slash Jacksonville residents’ $150 million verdict against Exxon Mobil. Lawyers for the plaintiffs had argued the judges did not reach a seven-judge majority on several issues as required by state law for cases heard by the entire court. The unanimous panel rejected the argument on appeal, saying only a majority of the nine judges was needed. The panel also called the argument “overly technical, inconsistent with sound rules of statutory construction and contrary to well-reasoned authorities.”
“In short, seven votes were not required for this Court to reach the decision it did in the February 9, 2012 [order],” Tuesday’s decision concludes. “A majority of the nine judges qualified to act in this case decided each of the issues on appeal.”
The underlying case involved 88 plaintiff households and stemmed from a massive gas station leak in 2006. February’s 321-page opinion, which included four separate concurrences and dissents, left intact about $60 million in property damage claims.