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Supreme Court: No Punitive Damages for Seafarer Injury Claims

The Maritime Executive

On Monday, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled against a seafarer who sought punitive damages from his employer  after a hatch blew open and injured his hand, finding that punitive damages - that is, extra money awarded to the plaintiff as an additional punishment for the defendant - are not available under an unseaworthiness claim. 


Admiralty lawyer John Kimball of Blank Rome also noted that the new ruling applies to a large docket of cases regarding asbestos exposure. "Although punitive damages were rarely awarded even before [Dutra v. Batterton], there are thousands of pending asbestos cases against ship owners in which the threat of being held liable for punitive damages has now been removed," Kimball said. 

"Supreme Court: No Punitive Damages for Seafarer Injury Claims," was published in The Maritime Executive on June 25, 2019.