Average Joe SCOTUS: The Dutra Group v. Batterton

So this dude Batterton worked on a boat owned by Dutra Group. The boat was missing a piece of equipment that the boat was supposed to have as a matter of law, because Dutra were soem cheap ass motherfuckers. As a result, there was an accident that destroyed Batterton’s hand.

Needless to say, Batterton was pissed! That was probably his masturbating hand. So he sued the fuck out of Dutra, seeking punitive damages.

Side note: Punitive damages are damages over and above financial damages like medical bills, and future earnings lost. It’s literally meant to PUNish (the same root as PUNitive) the person. Imagine for instance, the financial damages are small, like a thousand bucks, and it’s a huge company doing it. They might keep doing a bad thing, content to pay the $1,000 each time they’re sued, because it’s cheaper than not doing that bad thing. 

So punitive damages are meant to hit them in the nutsack, and make sure that they’re fully deincentivized from doing a bad thing. But that being said, it’s mean to be used against parties who knew they were doing the wrong thing, and did it anyway. You don’t typically want to punish someone for something they didn’t do on purpose.

Dutra Group went to the ninth circuit, and asked them to reject Batterton’s claim, because under the Jones Act, punitive damages aren’t available in such an incident. They cited an old SCOTUS case,  Miles v. Apex Marine Corp., 498 U.S. 19 (1990) as justification, because in that case, punitive damages weren’t available.

The ninth circuit politely told Dutra to go fuck themselves. They were all like, “Look at Batterton’s hand, motherfuckers? It’s wrecked! You’re gonna pay!”

So Dutra, thinking the ninth circuit was on crack, asked SCOTUS to step in.

SCOTUS conservatives, coupled with Kagan, decided to help Dutra out. Batterton referred to another previous SCOTUS case,  Atlantic Sounding Co. v. Townsend, 557 U.S. 404 (2009), where punitive damages were awarded, and felt like there was good precedent for recovering them.

But, in the Miles v. Apex Marine Corp., 498 U.S. 19 (1990) they were not awarded, and apparently the six justices felt like getting reimbursed for medical bills, and lost future earnings was enough. No need to punish Dutra beyond that.

6:3 Judgement for Dutra. Get your fucked up gnarly hand outta here.

Read about the case or hear oral arguments here.

Average Joe SCOTUS: Nielsen v. Preap

Mony Preap was a legal immigrant to the United States, a refugee from Cambodia. He came to the United States in 1981 with his parents. In 2006, his ass got busted with weed, and convicted of two misdemeanors as a result.

Because he’s a legal immigrant, and not a citizen, that immigration status can be revoked for certain crimes an immigrant pay commit, one of them being drug offenses.

But at the time, immigration authorities couldn’t be bothered, and did not detain him. Later, he was busted for battery, a crime that oddly does not qualify as a crime that gets you deported if you’re a non-citizen.

Thank about that. Victimless crime? “Fuck you, get out.” Straight up assault? “Nah, you’re good.”  America really needs to get its priorities straight. But back to Preap and others.

Once Preap was busted for battery, immigration decided to hold him without bail while they considered sending his ass back to Cambodia. But since the battery charge does not fall under the statute, they reverted back to his marijuana charges as justification for doing so.

Preap was like, “this is some bullshit” and filed for habeas relief, which means he wanted to be lawfully charged or released, not hanging out and chilling in jail for no good reason.

The Ninth Circuit agreed with Preap, that if the government were to hold Preap for deportation after his marijuana charge, they should have done so at the time of that charge, not years later.

The rule in question is 8 U.S. Code § 1226

Subsection C2 reads: The Attorney General shall take into custody any alien who is deportable under section 1227(a)(2)(A)(i) of this title on the basis of an offense for which the alien has been sentence [1] to a term of imprisonment of at least 1 year.

So now the SCOTUS is being asked to determine if ICE should have to detain these people immediately upon release, or if there is no such time restriction implied, and ICE can detain them whenever it decides to.

The conservative justices Roberts, Thomas, Alito, Gorsuch, and Kavanaugh didn’t give a flying fuck about Preap and his bullshit argument. They decided if Preap did the crime, that he can do the time, even if it’s years later.

I think everyone understands the opposition, here. A guy does a crime, and afterwards, goes back and largely lives a decent life, he shouldn’t have to live in fear the rest of his life that one day the government will roll up on his shit and be like, “Sorry sucker. You’re out!”

But nonetheless, the right wing five didn’t give two shits, and were not willing to prevent the government from doling out justice how they see fit.

Breyer wrote a dissenting opinion, essentially feeling that this interpretation opens up Pandora’s box for the federal government to use this tool down the road, to get rid of immigrants in general outside the normal scope of the law. He’s probably right, but he lost anyway. So it doesn’t matter.

Judgement 5:4 for Nielsen