A federal judge granted final approval Wednesday of a $1.075 billion agreement between Exxon Mobil Corp. and thousands of gasoline dealers who sued the company, settling a 14-year fight that went to the U.S. Supreme Court.
Exxon must deposit the total amount of money into a settlement fund within 35 days as part of U.S. District Court Judge Alan Gold’s final approval, said Miami attorney Eugene Stearns, who represented the dealers at trial and on appeal.
The two sides reached the agreement in December.
“It is the end of a very, very long road,” Stearns said. “This is essentially a surrender on Exxon’s part.”
Stearns said the 10,000 dealers will collect 100 percent of the damages that were sought on their behalf plus prejudgement interest through October 2005.
An Exxon spokeswoman, Prem Nair, did not immediately return telephone messages left at her home and on her mobile phone Wednesday evening.
The case against the Irving, Texas-based company began in 1991 when the service stations accused the company of failing to provide promised discounts for wholesale motor fuel and fraudulently hiding its failure to pay.
A jury found in favor of the dealers in 2001 and ordered Exxon to pay $500 million, but the company appealed that verdict. The U.S. Supreme Court denied Exxon’s last appeal in June 2005, by which time the payment had increased to more than $1 billion with interest.
The settlement came as a court-appointed official was assessing the claims of the more than 10,000 service station owners involved in the suit.
Exxon and Mobil corporations merged in 1999 and have become the world’s largest publicly traded oil company. Exxon announced that its 2005 profits topped $36.13 billion — the highest ever for a U.S. company.