Law School Case Brief
Comeaux v. Atos Origin It Servs. - No. 17-11273, 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 204633 (E.D. La. Dec. 3, 2018)
A Jones Act seaman cannot recover non-pecuniary or punitive damages against his employer under either the Jones Act or general maritime law.
On October 25, 2017, Plaintiff Lori Comeaux filed a Complaint against Defendants Atos Origin It Services Inc. f/k/a Schlumbergersema Inc. f/k/a Schlumberger Resource Management Services, Inc. ("Atos"). The Complaint alleged that Decedent Melvin A. Comeaux was employed by IMCO Services from 1979 through 1985 as a boat mate. According to the Complaint, IMCO Services was contracted by Atos to move and dispose drilling mud. Lori alleged that Melvin was exposed to benzene while transporting the drilling mud. Lori alleged that the benzene exposure caused Melvin to contract leukemia, which ultimately resulted in his death. Defendant Halliburton Energy Services, Inc. formerly d/b/a IMCO Services' (collectively, "HESI"). HESI filed a Motion to Dismiss Certain Claims Pursuant to Fed. R. Civ P. 12(b)(6). Therein, HESI argued that Lori’s request for damages related to Melvin’s alleged future medical expenses failed as matter of law because those damages do not exist given Melvin's death. HESI also argued that Lori's request for non-pecuniary damages fail as a matter of law because those damages are not recoverable by a seaman under the Jones Act or general maritime law. Finally, HESI contends that Lori's request for punitive damages fail because punitive damages are not recoverable under the Jones Act or general maritime law.
May Lori recover non-pecuniary or punitive damages against HESI under the Jones Act or general maritime law if Melvin is found to be a Jones Act seaman?
The Court followed the binding precedent set forth by the Fifth Circuit in McBride. The Court held that Lori is precluded from recovering non-pecuniary or punitive damages against HESI under the Jones Act or general maritime law if Melvin is found to be a Jones Act seaman.
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