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Riverboat not covered by Jones Act

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A casino riverboat that is indefinitely moored to the shore isn't considered a vessel in navigation under the federal Jones Act, so a riverboat worker can't bring a claim for compensation of injuries under the act, the Indiana Court of Appeals ruled today.

In RDI/Caesar's Riverboat Casino, Inc and M/V Glory of Rome v. Tina Conder, No. 31A04-0802-CV-40, Caesar's Riverboat Casino appealed the trial court order granting Tina Conder's motion for partial summary judgment under the Jones Act and denying Caesar's motion to dismiss her complaint. Conder worked as a table games dealer in the casino beginning in 2003 and was repeatedly bitten by fleas during her employment there. She claims the large doses of steroids used to treat the bites caused her to have a heart attack. She filed a complaint against Caesar's seeking compensation for her injuries based on the Jones Act, or as a Sieracki seaman.

The Court of Appeals looked to other jurisdictions in determining that indefinitely moored riverboats aren't covered under the Jones Act. The riverboats fail the first part of the U.S. Supreme Court's two-prong test for determining whether an employee is a Jones Act seaman because the riverboats aren't "vessels in navigation."

The Caesar's riverboat has been moored and stationary since August 2002 and the casino's director of marine operations testified the riverboat isn't transporting passengers, cargo, or equipment on the river anymore and is now a platform to conduct gaming activities.

The judges don't agree with Conder's argument that because the Coast Guard continues to inspect the riverboat and that Caesar's hasn't given up its Coast Guard Certificate of Inspection, the riverboat is a vessel of navigation under the Jones Act. Many other courts have considered indefinitely moored casinos that were registered with and inspected by the Coast Guard and ruled they aren't vessels in navigation, wrote Chief Judge John Baker.

The ship owner's intent with the ship, which in this case is to have the ship indefinitely moored, is part and parcel of the nature of the ship, the judge continued. The intent to never sail again leads to a conclusion that the Jones Act doesn't apply.

The appellate court reversed the trial court in part and remanded with instructions to dismiss Conder's Jones Act claim with prejudice and for further proceedings on her Sieracki seaman claim.

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  1. Poor Judge Brown probably thought that by slavishly serving the godz of the age her violations of 18th century concepts like due process and the rule of law would be overlooked. Mayhaps she was merely a Judge ahead of her time?

  2. in a lawyer discipline case Judge Brown, now removed, was presiding over a hearing about a lawyer accused of the supposedly heinous ethical violation of saying the words "Illegal immigrant." (IN re Barker) http://www.in.gov/judiciary/files/order-discipline-2013-55S00-1008-DI-429.pdf .... I wonder if when we compare the egregious violations of due process by Judge Brown, to her chiding of another lawyer for politically incorrectness, if there are any conclusions to be drawn about what kind of person, what kind of judge, what kind of apparatchik, is busy implementing the agenda of political correctness and making off-limits legit advocacy about an adverse party in a suit whose illegal alien status is relevant? I am just asking the question, the reader can make own conclsuion. Oh wait-- did I use the wrong adjective-- let me rephrase that, um undocumented alien?

  3. of course the bigger questions of whether or not the people want to pay for ANY bussing is off limits, due to the Supreme Court protecting the people from DEMOCRACY. Several decades hence from desegregation and bussing plans and we STILL need to be taking all this taxpayer money to combat mostly-imagined "discrimination" in the most obviously failed social program of the postwar period.

  4. You can put your photos anywhere you like... When someone steals it they know it doesn't belong to them. And, a man getting a divorce is automatically not a nice guy...? That's ridiculous. Since when is need of money a conflict of interest? That would mean that no one should have a job unless they are already financially solvent without a job... A photographer is also under no obligation to use a watermark (again, people know when a photo doesn't belong to them) or provide contact information. Hey, he didn't make it easy for me to pay him so I'll just take it! Well heck, might as well walk out of the grocery store with a cart full of food because the lines are too long and you don't find that convenient. "Only in Indiana." Oh, now you're passing judgement on an entire state... What state do you live in? I need to characterize everyone in your state as ignorant and opinionated. And the final bit of ignorance; assuming a photo anyone would want is lucky and then how much does your camera have to cost to make it a good photo, in your obviously relevant opinion?

  5. Seventh Circuit Court Judge Diane Wood has stated in “The Rule of Law in Times of Stress” (2003), “that neither laws nor the procedures used to create or implement them should be secret; and . . . the laws must not be arbitrary.” According to the American Bar Association, Wood’s quote drives home this point: The rule of law also requires that people can expect predictable results from the legal system; this is what Judge Wood implies when she says that “the laws must not be arbitrary.” Predictable results mean that people who act in the same way can expect the law to treat them in the same way. If similar actions do not produce similar legal outcomes, people cannot use the law to guide their actions, and a “rule of law” does not exist.

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