The Lookout provides readers with a snapshot of some important developments in maritime law and the maritime industry that are being monitored by the Admiralty, Maritime & Energy Litigation Practice at Lewis Brisbois.

U.S. Supreme Court Grants Petition for Cert. for Batterton v. Dutra Group

After much anticipation, on December 7, 2018, the U.S. Supreme Court granted certiorari in the Batterton v. Dutra Group case. In Batterton, the Ninth Circuit held that punitive damages were available to Jones Act seamen in unworthiness cases, while the Fifth Circuit in McBride v. Estis Wells Services held that punitive damages were not permissible in such cases. By granting cert., it appears that the Court will endeavor to resolve this split. For more information about that the availability of punitive damages in unseaworthiness cases, we invite you to read this article from the Daily Journal written by the Admiralty, Maritime & Energy Litigation Practice at Lewis Brisbois.

Iranian Hackers Indicted for Deploying Ransomware to Extort Port of San Diego, Other Institutions

At the end of November 2018, the Department of Justice published a news release stating that a federal grand jury returned an indictment in Newark, New Jersey charging two Iranians with a 34-month international hacking and extortion scheme causing over $30 million in losses. Among their targets was the Port of San Diego, illustrating that the maritime industry is a target for cyber-attacks. For more information, read the full press release here.

Captain of Table Rock Lake Duck Boat Indicted for Misconduct and Negligence

In November 2018, Kenneth Scott McKee was charged in a 17-count indictment related to the sinking of the Duck Boat in Table Rock Lake. McKee was the Captain of the Stretch Duck 7 which sank and killed 17 people. The charges include misconduct, negligence or inattention to his duties as the ship's officer. He allegedly failed to assess incoming weather prior to operating the vessel, and the severity of the weather. He alleged operated the vessel in violation of the specification of the certificate of inspection. This indictment re-enforces the severity of this accident and the potential repercussions for alleged negligent conduct. For more information, read the full press release here.

Maersk Seeks Alternative Cargo Insurance Coverage

In December, 2018, reported that Maersk Line is going to launch an alternative to cargo insurance called Value Protect to combat the rising number of shipments without coverage. According to the article, "Maersk said Value Protect would cover cargo loss or damage from a range of incidents such as fire, accidents due to danger of the sea, theft and natural disasters. Cyber incidents, cargo damage caused by delay and contributions in general average – excluded under conventional terms of carriage – would also be covered." You can read the full article here.

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