Atlantic Sounding Co. v. Townsend

557 U.S. 404, 129 S.Ct. 2561, 2009 AMC 1521 (2009)

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Atlantic Sounding Co. v. Townsend

United States Supreme Court
557 U.S. 404, 129 S.Ct. 2561, 2009 AMC 1521 (2009)

Facts

Edgar Townsend (plaintiff) was a seaman who was injured on a tugboat when he fell on the deck. Townshend sued the shipowner, Atlantic Sounding Co. (Atlantic) (defendant) in federal court, bringing claims under both the Jones Act and general maritime law. Townsend’s claims alleged negligence, unseaworthiness, wrongful termination, and willful failure to pay maintenance and cure, for which Townsend sought punitive damages. Atlantic moved to have the punitive-damages claim dismissed, alleging that those types of damages were unavailable for claims related to maintenance and cure. The district court denied the motion but granted Atlantic leave to raise the issue in an interlocutory appeal. The court of appeals affirmed the decision that punitive damages were allowed, but because that decision conflicted with the rulings of other courts of appeals, the United States Supreme Court granted certiorari.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Thomas, J.)

Dissent (Alito, J.)

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