HOUSTON (June 1) — A U.S. appeals court has declined to rehear a case involving carbon black producer Continental Carbon Co. and damage caused by emissions from one of its plants, but the company is taking the fight to the U.S. Supreme Court.
The U.S. Court of Appeals, 11th Circuit, in Montgomery, Ala., late last month refused Continental Carbon´s request for the court to rehear its own decision in the case. A three-judge panel on March 21 upheld a 2004 district court ruling against the company in which the trial jury backed the plaintiff´s allegations that carbon black emissions from a plant in Phenix City, Ala., damaged property in Columbus, Ga., vicinity.
Continental Carbon announced May 31 it paid the $2 million in compensatory damages to the plaintiffs and $1.4 million in attorneys´ fees as ordered by the courts. But it will continue to fight the $17.5 million in punitive damages via an appeal to the nation´s highest court.
Continental Carbon President Kim K.T. Pan said in a statement that the firm will accept responsibility for adverse effects found to be the result of the company's operations, but that it believes the punitive damages were "grossly excessive."
The company said the 11th Circuit´s decision upholding the jury´s award of $17.5 million in punitive damages is irreconcilable with decisions of other courts requiring lower amounts of punitive damages for conduct that was far more reprehensible and that caused far more serious harm than the activities for which Continental Carbon was held liable.