The outcome in Alaska Sport Fishing Ass'n demonstrates the need for both legislatures and courts to rethink the expansive applications of the parens patriae doctrine and its relationship to res judicata's concept of privity.
Part IV critically examines both the ability of the governments to recover all lost use damages as well as the court's decision and reasoning, as well as the issue of privity between the governments and ASFA, the concept of parens patriae, and how the courts have over-extended the doctrine.
43) Alaska also sued in its capacity as parens patriae.
The consent decree recited that the governments acted in their parens patriae capacities as co-trustees for the public:
90) In addition, the Ninth Circuit ruled that when a state is acting in its parens patriae capacity, it is presumed to represent the public interest.
In addition, the court's expansive reading of the doctrine of parens patriae for the purposes of privity raises serious questions about whether it is time to place viable limitations on the doctrine.
109) The Ninth Circuit held that the United States and the State of Alaska, acting as trustees for the public (in their parens patriae capacity) under the CWA and CERCLA, had authority to recover for all lost-use damages caused by the Exxon Valdez oil spill.
145] The doctrine of parens patriae is often invoked procedurally, as in Alaska Sport Fishing Ass'n, as the basis for a government to assert claims for recovery of natural resource damages as a trustee of the public.
The district court, nonetheless, had concluded that the sport fishers were privies of the governments under the doctrine of parens patriae.
157] However, under the parens patriae doctrine, the test for intervention becomes much more stringent when the applicant for intervention is a citizen of the state that is already a party to the suit.