Caldwell v. St. Charles Gaming Company, 2019-CC-01238, Supreme Court of Louisiana, Jan. 29, 2020

The Supreme Court of Louisiana concluded that a riverboat casino was not a “vessel” under general maritime law.

The plaintiff, an employee of Grand Palais Riverboat L.L.C., was injured onboard the Grand Palais, a riverboat casino, and subsequently filed a claim for damages pursuant to the general maritime law and the Jones Act. The evidence established that the Grand Palais has been moored to its location since 2001, its primary purpose is dockside gambling, and its side was integrated into the adjacent land-based pavilion and hotel. Despite the fact that it could be returned to service as a vessel with some modifications, “it has been moored indefinitely to provide and maintain its primary purpose of gaming activities.” After considering United States Supreme Court precedents on the issue of what constitutes a vessel, the Supreme Court of Louisiana ultimately concluded that, “Although the Grand Palais was originally designed to transport people over water, and theoretically is capable of navigation, as a result of changes to its physical characteristics, purpose and function spanning nearly a decade and a half, it is no longer a vessel used in maritime transportation.” Accordingly, having concluded that the riverboat casino was not a vessel under the general maritime law, plaintiff’s suit was dismissed.


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