Prickett v. Bonnier, In The Court of Appeal of the State of California, Fourth Appellate District, Division Three (Super Ct. No. 30-2016-00890746) (Oct. 13, 2020)

Loss of society damages and punitive damages are not available under the general maritime law where a minor plaintiff sues arising out of a maritime personal injury accident involving her father.

The California Court of Appeal affirmed the trial court’s grant of judgment on the pleadings against a minor plaintiff who sought recovery for loss of society damages and punitive damages stemming from a scuba diving accident in which the plaintiff’s father was injured. The trial court had ruled that neither loss of society damages nor punitive damages were available under the general maritime law in this scenario. On appeal, the California Court of Appeal addressed United States Supreme Court case law on both types of damages under the maritime law. Ultimately, the California Court of Appeal held that “[t]he United States Supreme Court has cautioned us not to get ahead of Congress in defining new maritime remedies, and we will abide by this admonition.” Simply put, the California Court of Appeal acknowledged its limitation in creating remedies for maritime claims – a role left for the legislature.


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