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Maritime Verdicts and Settlements Archives

Jury Finds Ship Owner Employer Negligent in Lia Hawkins' Death - $3.45 Million Award

On October 21, 2010, 33-year-old Lia Hawkins was working as part of a small renovation crew on board M/V SAHARA, which was moored in Ballard, Washington. SAHARA is over 300 feet long and was first commissioned in 1966 as a U.S. Coast and Geodetic Survey vessel. After her service there, SAHARA spent time moored as a breakwater in Kirkland. In 2009, Italian racecar driver and hotel owner Emanuele Garosci, through his company G Shipping Ltd., purchased SAHARA, reportedly for over $6.5 million, with the intent to renovate her into a luxury yacht hotel.

Punitive Damages in Maritime Law

Punitive damages, or exemplary damages, are those damages awarded by judge or jury in civil cases where the defendant has been found to have acted with outrageous disregard for the rights of the plaintiff, often for monetary gain. Punitive damages are meant to punish the defendant for gross negligence and purposeful misconduct as well as to send a strong warning that such actions will have consequences. The plaintiff receives this award on top of any other damages awarded.

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