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Mariners Win Again – Courts Punish Wrongful Conduct

In his September 13 order in Wagner v. Kona Blue Water Farms, Judge J. Michael Seabright dismissed the defense of a vessel operator that punitive damages cannot be recovered in unseaworthiness actions.

Wagner v. Kona Blue Water Farms, 2010 AMC 1217 (D. Hi. 2010), in which Judge Seabright deemed Kopczynski v. The Jacqueline, 742 F.2d 555, 1985 AMC 769 (9th Cir.1984), to be mandatory precedent and followed its rule that punitive damages are not recoverable in Jones Act negligence claims because Congress incorporated FELA’s damages limitation into the Jones Act.

This decision on punitive damages in unseaworthiness causes of action will result in a flurry of motions to amend complaints.

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