Living and Dying in the Post-Miles World: A Review of Compensatory and Punitive Damages Following Miles v. Apex Marine Corp.

This Article will review Miles, the maritime traditions from which it is drawn, and the precedent it has set. In doing so, it will be necessary to review the application of damages before and after Miles with respect to both compensatory and punitive damages. From this analysis, several conclusions are drawn. First, although Miles successfully rid the law of much of the ambiguity regarding the pecuniary nature of compensatory damages, the confusion left by its wake highlights the need for comprehensive maritime legislation. Second, although most post-Miles courts addressing the issue of punitive damages, other than in a maintenance-and-cure scenario, have denied recovery, the ground on which these courts have based their decisions is less than firm. Third, a sharp split exists in post-Miles case law on the issue of recovery of punitive damages in actions for maintenance and cure, which trumpets the need for some unifying act or event. Punitive damages should properly be limited or controlled, if not by the courts, then by legislative mandate.