Clausen v. Icicle Seafoods, Inc – Case Brief Summary (Washington)

In Clausen v. Icicle Seafoods, Inc. (2012) 174 Wn.2d 70 272 P.3d 827, a plaintiff maritime employee brought an action against his defendant employer after he was seriously injured while working on the defendant's vessel. The plaintiff "encountered persistent difficulties" when he sought payment during his recovery of "maintenance and cure," which are "traditional maritime remedies providing living and medical expenses." (Clausen, supra, 272 P.3d at p. 830.)

As a result, the plaintiff was forced to live in a "recreational vehicle with a leaking roof and with no heat, air conditioning, running water, or toilet facilities." (Ibid.)

The defendant also delayed or refused to pay for treatment recommended by the plaintiff's doctors, including back surgery. (Ibid.)

About a year later, the defendant employer filed suit against the plaintiff employee in federal court seeking to terminate his right to maintenance and cure based on allegations that the plaintiff allegedly was impeding the investigation into his claim. (Clausen, supra, 272 P.3d at p. 830.)

The plaintiff, in response, filed suit in state court. The jury subsequently found the defendant liable for negligence under the Jones Act (46 U.S.C. § 30104) and for wrongfully withholding maintenance and cure, and awarded the plaintiff about $490,000 in compensatory damages. The jury also found the defendant "was callous or willful and wanton" in failing to pay the plaintiff's maintenance and cure, and awarded him $1.3 million in punitive damages. (Clausen, at p. 830.)