Supreme Court hears arguments in seaworthiness and nuisance fax cases
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Supreme Court hears arguments in seaworthiness and nuisance fax cases

The US Supreme Court heard oral arguments Monday in PDR Network, LLC v. Carlton & Harris Chiropractic Inc., and Dutra Group v. Batterton.

The Jones Act provides means of recovery for seamen in personal injury and wrongful death laws. Through a measure of “unseaworthiness,” plaintiffs can recovery if injury happens because a vessel is not “reasonably fit for its intended purpose,” or, unseaworthy. In Dutra, Batterton filed suit against his employer, the Dutra Group, after hurting his hand on a ship he was assigned to work. The Supreme Court asks whether punitive damages may be awarded to a Jones Act seaman in a personal-injury suit alleging a breach of the general maritime duty to provide a seaworthy vessel.

In PDR Network, LLC v. Carlton & Harris Chiropractic Inc., Carlton & Harris Chiropractic was not thrilled to receive a fax from healthcare publisher Physicians’ Desk Reference (PDR), notifying the chiropractic office that PDR was switching to a digital version. Carlton & Harris filed a putative class action against PDR Network, seeking monetary damages under a provision of the Telephone Consumer Protection Act of 1991. The case, one of statutory interpretation, asks whether the Hobbs Act required the district court to accept the Federal Communication Commission’s legal interpretation of the Telephone Consumer Protection Act. Carlton & Harris argued that the Hobbs Act makes no exception for challenging a particular 60-day period order provision created by the FCC.