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McBride v. Estis Well Service, L.L.C.

768 F.3d 382, 2014 AMC 2409 (2014)

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McBride v. Estis Well Service, L.L.C.

United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit

768 F.3d 382, 2014 AMC 2409 (2014)

Facts

Skye Sonnier, Saul Touchet, Brian Suire, and Joshua Bourque (the crewmen) (plaintiffs) were working on a barge owned by Estis Well Service, L.L.C. (Estis) (defendant). The barge was supporting a truck-mounted drilling rig operating in a bayou in Louisiana. The truck tipped over, killing Sonnier and injuring the other crewmen. Haleigh McBride (plaintiff), Sonnier’s administratrix, joined with the other crewmen in suing Estis for negligence under the Jones Act and unseaworthiness under general maritime law and requesting compensatory and punitive damages. Estis moved to dismiss the claim for punitive damages as unavailable under either cause of action. The district court granted the motion and dismissed all claims for punitive damages. McBride and the crewmen filed an interlocutory appeal. A panel of the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit held that punitive damages were available under the United States Supreme Court’s decision in Atlantic Sounding Co., Inc. v. Townsend. The court of appeals granted a rehearing en banc.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Davis, J.)

Dissent (Higginson, J.)

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