October 17, 2008

SCOTUS May Consider Another Punitive Damages Issue Arising Under Maritme Law

A pending petition for certiorari to the U.S. Supreme Court raises a question involving the availability of punitive damages in maritime cases, specifically, whether a seaman may recover punitive damages against a shipowner for failing to pay for injuries suffered in a shipboard accident. The case, Atlantic Sounding Co. v. Townsend, is featured on SCOTUSblog's "Petitions to Watch," presumably because there is a circuit split on this issue. Even if the Supreme Court grants cert., this case is unlikely to have any impact outside of the maritime context.

Any readers with a passion for maritime punitive damages issues can read the 11th Circuit's opinion, the cert. petition, the brief in opposition, and amicus briefs by the American Waterways Operators, the Cruise Lines International Association, and United Maritime Group, all in support of the petitioner.