NAME: The Dutra Group, Petitioner v. Christopher Batterton
JOINING: Roberts, Thomas, Kagan, Gorsuch, Kavanaugh
JOINING: Breyer, Sotomayor
Case CommentaryHave you read the previous sixty-three cases on the year? If so, you already know that I am not a Lawyer and understanding The Law (from a legal perspective) is not the primary motivation behind these writings. And if you haven't read all sixty-three of those other cases... um, hop to... and then, now, in addition, having read between the lines, you have been warned about my defective qualifications and lack of nuanced understanding of that which is The Law, which may have been already clear had you read all sixty-three of those prior cases, which you really should do.
Seaworthiness: the owner of a vessel has an obligation to all the sailors on that vessel to provide a seaworthy vessel. This obligation is absolute and cannot be delegated. And in a surprising twist, if a vessel is deemed Un-Seaworthy (by who, I do not know) the sailors need not sail, but are still owed wages as if they had.
Maintenance and Cure: a sailor is owed room and board during their time on any vessel along with medical treatment for any malady, which comes about during their time at sea, until such a time as said malady is corrected.
I'm sure this could get dicey for diabetes or cancer.
But for something as straightforward as a hand injury (the focus of the case before us), it means full medical coverage (top of the line care), wages during the cure, and wages for life (whatever that means) if there is no cure (and the hand cannot be fixed).
Seaworthiness and Maintenance and Cure are Legal Terms of Historical Origin.
The question before The Court (and in this much simplified analysis) concerns whether a Sailor may ask for Punitive Damages along with the more traditional obligations already owed them.
The Court says No.
The Dissent says Yes.
And I am inclined to agree with the Dissent... more so, because I do not believe Lost Wages (or Lost Future Wages) is adequate compensation for an Industrial Accident.
On the other, I don't think the average payout should be millions upon millions... not that I know what a reasonable payout might be.
One thing I do know, I want the rules governing an Industrial Accident on the High Seas to be the same as one on Dry Land.