Allowing punitive damages
on unseaworthiness claims would also create "bizarre disparities" in the law, according to the opinion, which noted that because unseaworthiness claims run against the owner of the vessel, the owner could be liable for punitive damages
while the ship's master or operator - who could be more culpable - would not be liable for such damages under the Jones Act.
negligence, or oppression, the law permitted punitive damages, thereby
states allow punitive damages in exceptional cases, defined by the
become clear that punitive damages were available not only under state
of the nineteenth century most jurisdictions allowed punitive damages
punitive damages could be awarded against a principal (particularly a
the defendant, argued that courts could not award punitive damages under
The doctrine of punitive damages is an anomaly in the law.
History and Purpose of Punitive Damages in English and American Law
Punitive damages appeared in common law cases in the late eighteenth century, (36) but the underlying purpose of the practice was not clear.
Another eighteenth-century English case, however, puts pressure on that theory of punitive damages. In Duberley v.
This confusion made its way across the Atlantic, and throughout the nineteenth century, American courts and scholars equivocated on the motivating purpose of punitive damages. (46) If the court in Wilkes was right, then punitive damages serve not to compensate the plaintiff but to punish the defendant and deter similar conduct.