Riverboat not covered by Jones Act

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Here, we must decide whether a riverboat casino that is indefinitely moored to the shore is a “vessel in navigation” for the purpose of the federal Jones Act. Appellants-defendants RDI/Caesars Riverboat Casino, Inc., and the M/V Glory of Rome (collectively, Caesars) appeal the trial court’s order granting appellee-plaintiff Tina Conder’s motion for partial summary judgment and denying Caesars’s motion to dismiss Conder’s complaint. Caesars argues that the trial court erred as a matter of law by concluding that an indefinitely moored, dockside casino was a “vessel in navigation” pursuant to the Jones Act and that Conder was a Jones Act Seaman.


Conclusion (slip op. at 18)
: The judgment of the trial court is reversed in part and remanded with instructions to dismiss Conder’s Jones Act claim with prejudice and for further proceedings on her Sieracki seaman claim.


Key Analysis (slip op. at 17-18
): In sum . . . the Riverboat’s operations are gaming-related, rather than maritime in nature, and that has been the case since 2002. Conder, as a table games dealer for the Casino, is simply not an employee who is regularly—or at all—exposed to “the special hazards and disadvantages to which they who go down to sea in ships are subjected. Under these circumstances, we cannot conclude that the Riverboat is a vessel in navigation or that Conder is the type of employee that the Jones Act is intended to cover and protect.

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