Expert Testimony -- 2016

ExxonMobil Corp. v. New Hampshire   (U.S. Supreme Court)

Challenging trial by formula

On February 22, 2016, NAM and allied trade associations filed an amicus brief urging the U.S. Supreme Court to review a water pollution decision from New Hampshire. That state's Supreme Court departed from well-settled due process principles by upholding the $236 million damage award that the state had obtained against Exxon Mobil Corporation. The trial court permitted the state to establish that Exxon was liable for contamination involving the gasoline additive MTBE in private wells across the state, including non-existent potential future wells, based only on evidence from a small sample of wells and some statistical extrapolation by an expert witness.

Our brief addresses the unconstitutionality of “trial by formula" in state court parens patriae lawsuits for money damages, an important issue for corporate defendants. Specifically our brief argued that the lower court’s decision cannot be reconciled with principles of due process that protect defendants at trial, that the case provides an opportunity for the Court to clarify that the due process clause forbids “trial by formula”, and that “trial by formula” distorts outcomes and encourages speculative litigation.

On May 16, 2016, the Court declined to hear this appeal.

Related Documents:
NAM amicus brief  (February 22, 2016)


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