HOUSTON (July 3, 2008) — The U.S. Supreme Court has declined to hear a final appeal from carbon black producer Continental Carbon Co. in an emissions damage case dating back to 2001.
The high court on June 27 denied the company's writ of certiorari for a hearing on the case. As a result, Continental Carbon will pay $17.5 million in punitive damages, a penalty instilled by an Alabama trial court jury back in August 2004.
The Houston-based company last year paid $2 million in compensatory damages and $1.4 million in attorneys' fees following a U.S. Court of Appeals decision not to rehear the case.
The original lawsuit—filed in August 2001 by the city of Columbus, Ga., and individuals Owen Ditchfield and John Tharpe—alleged that emissions from Continental Carbon's Phenix City, Ala., facility damaged property owned by the plaintiffs.
Continental Carbon appealed the lower court decision to the 11th Circuit, but a three-judge panel from the court in March 2007 upheld the original verdict. In May 2007 the court refused the company's request for a rehearing. But Continental Carbon decided to turn to the Supreme Court to continue to fight what it deemed as an “unprecedented and grossly excessive amount” of punitive damages.