August 19, 2009

Yet More on Punitive Damages in Admiralty Cases

Suprisingly, the subject of punitive damages in admiralty cases has become a hot topic in recent years, with the Supreme Court taking up two cases in this area (Exxon Shipping and Atlantic Sounding Co. v. Townsend.)

Unfortunately for those who actually care about these issues, the Supreme Court split 4-4 on the primary admiralty law issue in Exxon Shipping, namely, whether punitive damages can be imposed on a ship owner for the acts of a ship captain. Admiralty experts can blame Justice Alito for the continuing lack of guidance. He recused himself from Exxon Shipping because he owns Exxon Mobil stock.

Fear not, admiralty punitive damages gurus, the Tulane Law Review is here to help. Their June 2009 issue arises out of a symposium on admiralty law and contains two articles on punitive damages in admiralty cases. The aptly named professor John Paul Jones* of the University of Richmond authored "The Sky Has Not Fallen Yet on Punitive Damages in Admiralty Cases" and Tulane law student Megan Ann Healy wrote "Exxon Shipping Co. v. Baker: The Supreme Court's Indecision Leaves Shipowners List at Sea as to the Applicability of Vicarious Liability for Punitive Damages." I can't find a linkable version of either article, but the Westlaw citations are 83 TLNR 1289 and 83 TNLR 1521, respectively.

*Yes, there really is an admiralty expert named John Paul Jones. No, not this John Paul Jones.