In In re Rodi Marine, LLC, a section of the US District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana found that punitive damages may be awarded under Section 905(b) of the Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act (LHWCA). The US Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals has yet to decide this issue, however, after this decision, at least two sections of the Eastern District have held that a longshoreman may seek punitive damages under 905(b) of the LHWCA—a development that may adversely impact vessel owners.
The Rodi Marine case arose out of a maritime allision occurring on April 18, 2017 between a vessel and a fixed platform located in the Gulf of Mexico. Two workers aboard the vessel filed claims against the vessel owner/operator of the vessel, alleging they suffered injuries as a result of the vessel owner’s negligence and the vessel’s unseaworthiness. The workers asserted claims for general, compensatory, and punitive damages.