HARD AGROUND - Wreck of the Exxon Valdez - March 24, 1989

Contents

Home

Introduction
The Event
The Clean-Up
The Impact On Life
The Captain
The Ship
The Legal Battles
The Legacy

Links
Reading List
Image Gallery

Timeline
Maps

Search
ADN Archives

Permissions
User Agreement

Line

Sponsored by:
Anchorage
Daily News

Story Index:
Main | The Legal Battles
Overall: story 28 of 380 Previous Next
The Legal Battles story 1 of 87 Previous Next

2 FISHERMEN FILE FIRST LAWSUIT OVER SPILL; MORE SUITS LIKELY

By SHEILA TOOMEY
Daily News reporter

Anchorage Daily News
Date: 03/30/89
Day: Thursday
Edition: Final
Section: Metro
Page: C1

ANCHORAGE- The first of an expected avalanche of lawsuits over the catastrophic Valdez oil spill has been filed in Anchorage Superior Court.

The class action suit, filed in the names of two Prince William Sound fishermen, accuses Exxon Corporation, Alyeska Pipeline Service Co. and the state Department of Environmental Conservation of gross negligence in connection with the 11milliongallon spill and the botched cleanup efforts.

Martin and James Goreson, who own four limitedentry permits, say allowing the spill to happen, and then failing to clean it up will cost them money because of lost fishing. The lawsuit asks for damages, with the amount to be determined at a later date.

A spokeswoman for the law firm of Hansen and Lederman said a separate suit with similar allegations will be filed against the U.S. Coast Guard later this week in federal court.

Additionally, Cordova District Fisherman United, an association of Prince William Sound fishermen, is preparing to take separate legal action according to its executive director, Marilyn Leland.

The tanker Exxon Valdez, loaded with 53 million gallons of North Slope crude, ran aground shortly after midnight Friday about 25 miles out of Valdez in clear weather and calm seas. As of Wednesday, a 100squaremile slick of sticky glop was drifting out of control in the eastern part of the Sound, killing marine life, coating island shores and threatening a $90 million fishery.

The suit also names Exxon Valdez Capt. Joseph Hazelwood as a defendant, citing him for failure "to operate the Exxon Valdez in a safe and prudent manner in accordance with accepted navigational practices."

The Goresons accuse Exxon of negligence for hiring Hazelwood, but the suit does not specifically mention Hazelwood's history of alcoholrelated driving convictions nor reports from the Coast Guard that his breath smelled of alcohol shortly after the March 24 accident.

It does mention that Hazelwood had turned the helm over to an unqualified pilot shortly before the ship ran aground on Bligh Reef at 12:04 a.m.

Once the accident occurred, Exxon, Alyeska and the state had a duty "to respond to the oil spill as quickly and responsibly as possible to minimize damage" to fishermen, the suit says, but all failed to do so.

Citing emergency powers granted to DEC in state statutes, the Goresons say the agency should have declared an emergency and taken charge of faltering cleanup efforts. State law says DEC may take control of cleanup efforts and order "a person or persons to take action the department believes necessary to meet the emergency, and protect the public health, welfare, or environment.

"A person to whom an order is directed shall comply with it immediately . . ." the law says.

Exxon officials, who were in charge of the cleanup, have been criticized for the pace of their efforts.

DEC "failed to meet its responsibilities . . . on March 24, 1989, and in the days following the grounding of the Exxon Valdez," the suit charges.

Leland, of the Cordova fishermen's group, said the Goresons are not members of that organization. Members of the Cordova union are "actively investigating our options," she said, and will probably sign up two law firms today one from Alaska and one from Outside.


Story Index:
Main | The Legal Battles
Overall: story 28 of 380 Previous Next
The Legal Battles story 1 of 87 Previous Next

   
Want to read more articles on this topic? ADNSearch.com has full-text articles published in the Anchorage Daily News Text Archives from late 1985 to the present - available to you with the click of your mouse. Make the Anchorage Daily News your source for Alaska and Anchorage history. Check out www.adnsearch.com right now!
All components of this site are copyright 1989-1999 by the Anchorage Daily News, Anchorage, Alaska unless otherwise noted. Unauthorized reproduction or use of any material available from this site is strictly prohibited. For information on obtaining reprints of, or republication rights to any of these materials, see Permissions.
We welcome your comments or questions regarding this site - webteam@adn.com
Anchorage Daily News Alaska's Eyewitness to History