Supreme Court Hears Oral Argument in Jones Act Case, Dutra Group v. Batterton

On Monday, March 25, 2019, the United States Supreme Court held oral argument on Dutra Group v. Batterton in an attempt to resolve a circuit split. The Jones Act case reached the Supreme Court from the Ninth Circuit, whose district courts have held that a claim for punitive damages is available to Jones Act seamen in a general maritime unseaworthiness claim. This is in direct conflict with decisions from the Fifth Circuit, among others, where district courts have held that a Jones Act seaman’s recovery for unseaworthiness under general maritime law does not include punitive damages. It appears the Supreme Court is set to resolve the issue for the lower courts, though the Court’s questions during oral argument on March 25, 2019, did not give much indication as to a favorite side. The Arguments: A Sojourn Through Legal History The transcript of arguments reveals a sojourn through legal history stretching back to the founding of the republic, with many stops at…

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