November 12, 2015

Seattle jury awards $16.5 million in punitive damages against Holland America

Washington state law does not permit punitive damages in civil cases, so we rarely ever see a large punitive damages award in that state unless the case is tried under the law of some other jurisdiction.  

AP reported yesterday that a federal court jury in Seattle awarded $21.5 million, including $16.5 million in punitive damages, against the Holland America Cruise Line.  The plaintiff claimed he was injured by an automatic sliding glass door on a cruise ship, and that Holland America knew about and covered up problems with the motion sensors on the doors.  Presumably the case was tried under maritime law, which permits punitive damages under some circumstances.