What Is The Biggest Amount Sued For?

  • John A. Osborne
  • Feb 05, 2023
Small Business Insurance Washington

Legal disputes are a common occurrence in modern society. They range from small claims to high-profile cases that involve millions of dollars. But what happens when the amount sued for reaches astronomical figures? What is the biggest amount sued for in history? Let’s explore this topic in detail.

Before we dive into the specifics, it’s worth noting that the amount sued for is not always the same as the amount awarded. In some cases, the plaintiff might ask for a large sum of money, but the judge might rule in their favor for a much smaller amount. With that in mind, let’s take a look at some of the most significant lawsuits in history.

The Boeing-Airbus Dispute

The aviation industry is no stranger to legal disputes, and one of the most significant ones involves Boeing and Airbus. In 2004, the United States filed a complaint with the World Trade Organization (WTO) against the European Union (EU) regarding subsidies given to Airbus. In response, the EU filed a counter-complaint against the United States for subsidizing Boeing.

The dispute lasted for over a decade, with both sides accusing each other of unfair trade practices. In 2019, the WTO ruled that the EU had given illegal subsidies to Airbus, and the United States was given permission to impose tariffs on $7.5 billion worth of EU goods. This amount is the highest authorized by the WTO in history.

The Exxon Valdez Oil Spill

In 1989, the Exxon Valdez oil tanker spilled over 11 million gallons of crude oil into Alaska’s Prince William Sound. The environmental impact was devastating, with thousands of marine animals killed or injured, and the fishing industry severely affected. In response, over 32,000 plaintiffs filed a class-action lawsuit against Exxon for damages.

The case dragged on for years, with multiple appeals and legal battles. In 2008, Exxon agreed to pay $507.5 million in damages, which was the largest settlement in history at the time. However, when adjusted for inflation, the amount is closer to $1 billion today.

The Tobacco Industry Settlement

The tobacco industry has been the subject of numerous lawsuits over the years, but one of the most significant ones was the settlement reached in 1998. The settlement involved four of the largest tobacco companies in the United States and 46 states, and it addressed the health effects of smoking.

The settlement required the tobacco companies to pay $206 billion over 25 years to the states to cover the costs of treating smoking-related illnesses. This amount is still the largest settlement in history, and it also included restrictions on marketing and advertising by the tobacco companies.

The Lehman Brothers Bankruptcy

The 2008 financial crisis had far-reaching consequences, and one of the most significant casualties was Lehman Brothers. The investment bank filed for bankruptcy in September 2008, which triggered a chain reaction that led to the collapse of other financial institutions.

The bankruptcy of Lehman Brothers led to numerous lawsuits, as investors and creditors sought to recoup their losses. The total amount of claims against the bank was over $1 trillion, which makes it one of the largest bankruptcies in history. However, the final amount awarded to the plaintiffs was much smaller, at around $55 billion.


The biggest amount sued for in history varies depending on the context and the outcome of the legal dispute. However, the cases mentioned above show that the amounts involved can be massive, and they can have a significant impact on the parties involved.

Legal disputes are complex and often involve multiple parties and factors. It’s essential to have a knowledgeable and experienced legal team to navigate these waters successfully. If you’re involved in a legal dispute, make sure to seek the advice of a qualified attorney who can guide you through the process.

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