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New Hampshire Jury Awards State $236M in methyl tert-butyl (MTBE) Case

Approximately six weeks after getting the Maryland Supreme Court to agree that nearly all of the $1.6 billion in damages awarded by lower courts should be overturned, Exxon Mobil Corporation found itself facing a new toxic tort jury award, this one in favor of the State of New Hampshire in the amount of $236 million. The jury found ExxonMobil responsible for groundwater clean-up costs allegedly associated with the gasoline additive methyl tert-butyl ether (“MTBE”). New Hampshire v. Hess Corp., No. 03-C-0550 (N.H. Sup. Ct. Apr. 9, 2013), available at www.bdlaw.com/assets/attachments/Hess.pdf. The jury found in favor of the State on its failure to warn, design defect and negligence claims.

New Hampshire claims it will have to spend $816 million for environmental testing and cleanup costs related to the MTBE. The state, which sued 16 companies over MTBE, had settled its claims with all of the other defendants by the time the trial ended. New Hampshire claimed that ExxonMobil, the sole remaining defendant, had a market share in the state of approximately 29%. The jury awarded the state 29% of its total alleged damages, which amounted to $236 million.

Among other things, ExxonMobil had argued that that the dangers of MTBE were well-known (and therefore warnings were not required), that it had adequately warned distributors about the risks of gasoline containing MTBE, and that the state voluntarily joined the reformulated gasoline program in an effort to improve air quality, which resulted in the use of greater quantities of gasoline containing MTBE in the state. The company has said it will appeal the verdict on the grounds that erroneous rulings before and during the three-month trial kept the jury from hearing all of the evidence and deprived it of a fair trial.  

© 2021 Beveridge & Diamond PC National Law Review, Volume III, Number 115
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About this Author

Daniel M. Krainin Environmental Litigation Attorney Beveridge & Diamond New York, NY
Principal

Dan deploys more than two decades of environmental litigation experience to resolve clients’ legal and business challenges.

Primarily focused on environmental and toxic tort litigation, Dan helps clients successfully resolve groundwater contamination, hazardous waste site remediation, natural resource damages, permit defense and product-related matters. He enjoys using his skills as a litigator to help clients solve environmental problems.

Among his many wins, Dan successfully led a team that defeated an emergency challenge to a permit that Dan’s client needed to continue its...

212-702 5417
Megan R. Brillault Environmental Litigation Attorney Beveridge & Diamond New York, NY
Associate

Megan Brillault represents individuals, trade associations and businesses, including Fortune 500 companies, in complex civil and criminal environmental and toxic tort litigation, including class and mass actions.

Versed in the complexities of e-discovery, Megan helps clients implement cost-effective and fast-paced litigation solutions for all phases of discovery through post-trial proceedings. She also promotes diversity and inclusion within the firm and the legal community, working with the Leadership Council on Legal Diversity and various women's organizations.

A...

212-702-5414
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