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June 2019 Longshore/Maritime Update – update on punitive damages in seamen’s cases

June 28
2019


Update on punitive damages in seamen’s cases

June 24, 2019

The Supreme Court handed down its decision today in The Dutra Group v. Batterton, No. 18-266 (June 24, 2019). The case presented an issue that had divided the lower courts: whether punitive damages may be awarded to a seaman in a personal injury suit based on a breach of the general maritime duty to provide a seaworthy vessel. The Ninth Circuit had ruled that punitive damages were available for the unseaworthiness claim, and the Fifth Circuit had ruled that punitive damages were not available. The majority opinion, authored by Justice Alito, held that seamen may not recover punitive damages in unseaworthiness actions.

Kenneth G. Engerrand
President
Brown Sims, P.C.

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Please note that these opinions and statements are my own analysis of the cases that are discussed. They do not represent the position of Brown Sims, P.C. or any organization to which I belong or that I represent. Under no circumstances should these opinions and statements be considered legal advice. If you want legal advice, please consult an attorney.

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