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Is a floating casino a ship?

Every now and then courts are faced with the question whether a particular watercraft is a vessel/ship or not, which btw is no easy task. As they say ‘you know a ship when you see one’! This time it was a floating casino in US. In The Grand Palais [2019] a deckhand got injured and was claiming under the Jones Act – which would have applied only if was a ‘vessel’.

The owner argued that it was not, as deckhand was not exposed to perils of the sea and he had no connection to a vessel in navigation, and thus Jones Act could not apply. She had infant ceased daily excursions in 2001, and had now been moored in the same location for over 16 years. However, the owner had invested significantly in ensuring that she is fully operational and was indeed capable of returning to service/navigate.

For a watercraft not to be considered as a vessel it must be permanently disabled. Following an earlier precedent, where it was held that a watercraft that is capable of transportation, but has been docked indefinitely and not removed from navigation, is a vessel in navigation, it was held that The Grand Palais was indeed a vessel.

Worth pointing out that in a similar case for injury on the same vsl, the court in 2017 had reached a different conclusion.

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