Personal injury lawsuits reveal how seamen’s rights and remedies apply in real-life situations. The Caldwell v. St. Charles Gaming Co.(SCGC) case shows why working aboard a vessel matters to qualify one as a seaman. Are riverboat casinos considered to be vessels? Let’s see what the court decided.
Mr. Caldwell’s Personal Injury Case
Mr. Caldwell worked as a technician aboard Grand Palais, which was a permanently moored riverboat casino in Lake Charles, LA. He got injured when the gangway attached to the riverboat collapsed. Following the accident, the technician brought claims against his employer for:
- negligence under the Jones Act,
- maintenance and cure under the general maritime law.
His employer, however, built its defense around the statement that Grand Palais did not qualify as a vessel. Also, this would mean that Mr. Caldwell was not a seaman and had no right to bring his claims.
So, was he really entitled to the special rights and remedies afforded only to seamen? His case went all the way to the Louisiana Supreme Court for a final say.
The Vessel Status Quo
The Louisiana Supreme Court determined that the riverboat casino was not a vessel, because it was not capable of maritime transportation. Although the riverboat was theoretically capable of transporting people and things, there were physical changes to the riverboat and the riverboat has a permanent mooring arrangement, which made navigation impractical. Therefore, Mr. Caldwell did not qualify as a seaman, since the riverboat was not a vessel.
Do you work aboard a vessel? This can determine:
- Whether you have seaman status
- Whether you are entitled to the special protective remedies afforded to seamen.
The question of what constitutes a vessel is a complicated legal matter requiring an experienced maritime attorney. How can crewmen protect their interests? Follow our blog to learn more.