Maritime Industry News: Dutra Group v. Batterton
June 28, 2019

The U.S. Supreme Court decided Dutra Group v. Batterton, No. 18-266, on Monday, June 24, 2019, finding plaintiffs are not able to recover punitive damages for unseaworthiness claims. In Batterton, the plaintiff was injured while working on a vessel and asserted several claims against its owner, including that that it was unseathworthy under general maritime law. He sought punitive damages, and the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals permitted the suit to move forward, in contravention of a prior ruling by the Fifth Circuit and other courts. The Court analyzed the unseaworthiness doctrine and ultimately concluded that punitive damages were inappropriate based on a lack of precedent for such remedies in unseaworthiness claims. The Court also reasoned that ship-owners already have significant economic incentives to ensure the seaworthiness of their vessels, and allowing punitive damages in these cases could put American shippers at a competitive disadvantage.

Read the full decision here>>