On December 7, 2018, the United States Supreme Court granted Defendant’s Writ of Certiorari in the matter of Dutra Group v Batterton. Defendant Dutra, represented by Barry Ponticello at EPS, sought to strike the punitive damages alleged by Plaintiff under the general maritime unseaworthiness action. The case originated with a filing in 2015 in US District Court, Central District of California. The matter has proceeded through the Trial level and 9th Circuit Court of Appeals.
For decades, attorney Ponticello and the maritime team at EPS have defended vessel owners and maritime employers in maritime actions throughout the west coast. In this particular case that SCOTUS has granted review, the Court will weigh in on whether seaman are entitled to pursue punitive damages against vessel owners for unseaworthy vessels under the general maritime law. The Court will necessarily address the interplay and applicability of Jones Act, maintenance and cure and unseaworthy causes of action, as well as addressing the Circuit Court split.