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Showing posts from September, 2014

Maritime Law--En Banc 5th Circuit Rules Punitive Damages NOT Allowed in Jones Act Cases

In the long awaited en banc decision of McBride v. Estes Well Services, LLC, No. 12-30714 (Sept. 25, 2014), the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals had to decide whether seaman plaintiffs, two injured seamen and the personal representative of a deceased seaman, could recover punitive damages under either the Jones Act or the general maritime law of the United States. The en banc Court affirmed the district court and concluded that the case was controlled by the SCOTUS decision in Miles v. Apex Marine Corp., which holds that the Jones Act limits a seaman's recovery to pecuniary losses where liability is predicated on the Jones Act or unseaworthiness. Because punitive damages are non-pecuniary losses, punitive damages were not recoverable in the case. The 73-page decision is interesting, as there are two separate concurring opinions for the 8 judges in the majority and two separate dissenting opinions by 6 judges. Care was taken in this decision, as several circuits hold that the Miles pr…