Supreme Court to Resolve Punitive Damages for Jones Act Seamen

On December 7, 2018, the United States Supreme Court granted a writ of certiorari in Dutra Group v. Batterton (18-266). As we reported on August 13, 2018, the Ninth Circuit ruled earlier this year in Batterton v. Dutra Group, __ F.3d __, No. 15-56775 (9thCir. 2018) that punitive damages are available to an injured seaman in unseaworthiness actions, rejecting the ruling and analysis of the Fifth Circuit in McBride v. Estis Well Services, LLC, 768 F.3d 382 (5th Cir. 2014). This created a direct conflict between the circuits, and the Supreme Court will address this matter to resolve the circuit split.

This is a very important issue to all maritime interests and certainly appropriate for Supreme Court resolution. We anticipate that numerous amicus briefs will be submitted on both sides of this issue. We will report developments as they occur.