The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that seamen injured on the job may sue for punitive damages when employers refuse to pay for medical care and time off. The Court, by a 5-4 vote, decided in favor of Edgar L. Townsend, a tugboat crew member who injured his arm and shoulder when he slipped and fell on the boat’s steel deck. The boat’s owner, Atlantic Sounding Co., preferred to not pay Townsend for medical care and time off. Each side filed a lawsuit.
The seaman’s suit included a claim for punitive damages, which as we all know is intended to punish a party for its behavior and prevent a recurrence of that behavior. Justice Clarence Thomas, writing for the Court, said the seaman has the right to pursue the punitive damages claim. The Justice said that the Court could “find no legal obstacle to his doing so.” The suits have been on hold pending the Court’s decision.
Source: Associated Press
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