This decision is of importance to floating structures that rarely depart a mooring and/or dock location.

The Louisiana Supreme Court has issued a significant decision clarifying that a permanently moored riverboat casino is not a vessel under federal maritime law. This decision is of importance to industries involved with floating structures that rarely, if ever, depart a mooring and/or dock location.

Prior to 2001, the Grand Palais Casino sailed occasionally. However, since that date, the Grand Palais has remained permanently moored at Westlake, Louisiana, where it functions as a casino. All necessary services for the Grand Palais are provided via shoreside utility lines including electric, water, sewage, cable and internet services.

A technician employed on Grand Palais, who was injured in a gangway collapse, brought suit in 2015 under the federal maritime statute known as the Jones Act and not the state worker’s compensation law. The technician alleged he was a seaman under the Jones Act and that he was employed on a vessel. The injured technician held no marine certifications and his work included chipping and painting.

The court, in a detailed analysis, found that the primary purpose of the Grand Palais was dockside gambling and not transportation. As such, the court found that the Grand Palais was not a vessel and the Jones Act was not applicable.

This decision is not only relevant to gaming and maritime industries but is of importance to other industries that are involved with floating structures that rarely if ever depart a mooring and/or dock location, including the oil and gas, coal, power plant, construction, hotel, entertainment, restaurant and housing industries.