In the latest edition of his ever-useful Bryant's Maritime Consulting Newsletter, Dennis Bryant provides an illustration of why Jones Act operation can be an expensive business, not least in the State of Washington.
He reports that in Clausen v. Icicle Foods, No. 85200-6 (Washington, March 15, 2012), the Supreme Court of the State of Washington ruled that the jury's award of punitive damages for the willful withholding of maintenance and cure is not limited by federal maritime law cases.
The jury found the defendant negligent under the Jones Act, awarding $453,100 in damages. It also found that the defendant was callous or willful and wanton in its failure to pay maintenance and cure. It awarded $37,420 in compensatory damages for maintenance and cure plus $1.3 million in punitive damages.
A dissenting opinion contended that the U.S. Supreme Court imposed binding limits on the amount of punitive damages that could be awarded in admiralty.
You can read the court's opinion HERE
April 13, 2012