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Bland v. Omega Protein Inc.

United States District Court, W.D. Louisiana, Lafayette Division

December 15, 2014

GLORIA BLAND, ET AL.
v.
OMEGA PROTEIN INC, ET AL

For Gloria Bland, individually and on behalf of her minor child Y B, Author Bland, individually and on behalf of his minor child Y B, Plaintiffs: Andrew J Quackenbos, LEAD ATTORNEY, Brian C Colomb, Domengeaux Wright et al (LAF), Lafayette, LA; Harold Joseph Eisenman, Houston, TX.

For Omega Protein Inc, Defendant: Alan K Breaud, Breaud & Meyers, Lafayette, LA.

REBECCA F. DOHERTY, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE. MAGISTRATE JUDGE HANNA.

MEMORANDUM RULING

REBECCA F. DOHERTY, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

Pending before the Court is the " Motion for Judgment on the Pleadings to Dismiss Claims for Punitive Damages and Claims for Loss of Society (Consortium)" filed by Omega Protein, Inc. [Doc. 23], Omega Protein argues Author Bland's claim for punitive damages is not recoverable in an unseaworthiness action under the general maritime law, nor are the spouse and children of Author Bland, and injured seaman, entitled to damages for loss of society under the general maritime law as a matter of law. The motion is opposed by the plaintiffs [Doc. 25], For the following reasons, the motion is GRANTED IN PART AND DENIED IN PART.

I. Factual and Procedural Background

The facts of the case do not appear to be disputed by the parties. According to the defendant, the litigation arises from an incident which occurred on or about May 3, 2013 aboard the F/V RACOON POINT, a fishing vessel owned and operated by Omega. Plaintiff Author Bland was employed by Omega Protein as a member of the crew of the F/V RACOON POINT. Mr. Bland alleges that while engaged in fishing operations on the vessel, he was struck in the face with a metal ring and injured. Mr. Bland alleges (and Omega does not dispute) he was a Jones Act seaman at the time of the incident. Mr. Bland and his wife, Gloria Bland, individually, and on behalf of their minor child, Y.B., filed the present lawsuit against Omega. In addition to the usual elements of damages under the Jones Act and for unseaworthiness, Mr. Bland seeks punitive damages in the following paragraph of his Complaint (Doc. 1):

VIII.

Defendants have unreasonably, arbitrarily, willfully, and wantonly breached their duty under the general maritime law to provide a seaworthy vessel. As a result of Defendants' unreasonably, arbitrary, willful, and wanton breach of that duty, Author Bland is entitled to punitive damages and attorney fees.

In the Complaint, Gloria Bland and the minor child, Y.B., asserted independent claims for damages for loss of society, consortium, services, and support in the following paragraph of the Complaint (Doc. 1):

IX.

At all relevant times herein, Author Bland was married to petitioner, Gloria Bland and living with and supporting Gloria Bland and their minor child/petitioner herein, Y.B., thereby entitling Gloria Bland and Y.B. to all available damages, including past, present, and future, sustained as a result of Author Bland's injuries, including, but not limited to:
A. Loss of support, both financial and emotional;
B. Loss of consortium, love, affection and all other related damages permitted by any ...

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