Maritime Case Law Update – Punitive Damages Not Recoverable in Unseaworthiness Actions

June 25, 2019 by on News

For years, a split in the federal circuits existed on whether punitive damages were recoverable by a seaman in a personal injury claim based on a breach of the general maritime duty to provide a seaworthy vessel.  The Ninth Circuit had held such damages were recoverable whereas the Fifth Circuit had held that they were not.  The issue was before the Supreme Court to resolve this conflict.  On June 24, 2019, in an opinion authored by Justice Alito, the Supreme Court has decided that a seaman cannot recover punitive damages in unseaworthiness actions.  See The Dutra Group v. Batterton, No. 18-266 (June 24, 2019).  This is certainly good news for vessel owners.

Mark K. Eckels
Shareholder / Practice Group Leader
Direct: 904.353.6244

Comprehensive Services

Many cases overlap several areas of law. As a full service law firm, we are able to recognize how one legal discipline impacts another. We work as a team on complex issues that require knowledge of a variety of state and federal laws. This multi-disciplinary approach allows clients to receive the large-firm advantage of access to multiple attorneys in a wide scope of practice areas as well as the hands-on customer service offered by a boutique law firm. In addition to civil litigation, employment law, workers’ compensation defense, commercial law, construction law and appeals, our firm also handles professional liability claims.

Our bilingual staff is available to assist with immigration matters, including consular and removal defenses.