Seamen Can Sue For Punitive Damages: High Court

Law360, New York (June 25, 2009, 12:00 AM EDT) -- A seaman has the right to recover punitive damages for personal injuries if his employer willfully failed to pay the federally mandated “maintenance and cure” under maritime law, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled Thursday.

In a 5-4 ruling in Atlantic Sounding Co. Inc. v. Townsend, the court ruled that historically, punitive damages have been available and awarded in general maritime actions, including some in maintenance and cure. Thursday's decision affirmed an appellate court ruling, and the case has been remanded for further proceedings.

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