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In Council Bluffs, the Bounding Main


Before it closes up shop for the summer, the Supreme Court probably will let us know if it will hear the appeal of Amanda, Helen and Beverly. Mr. Justice Kilpatrick, meaning me, votes to set the case for argument next fall.

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									COURT REPORTER                                                                                            www.lawcrossing.com     1. 800.973.1177

In Council Bluffs, the Bounding Main
[By James Kilpatrick]
Before it closes up shop for the summer, the Supreme Court probably will let us know if it will hear the appeal of Amanda, Helen and Beverly. Mr. Justice
Kilpatrick, meaning me, votes to set the case for argument next fall. The young ladies’ plea involves a serious question of maritime law.

Remarkably, the case arises not on the high          heavy bags of coins in and out of the ship’s         What is a vessel? The Iowa court looked to a
seas but in Council Bluffs, Iowa. There, 0          vaults. In March of 2000, when the ship was          Supreme Court case just two years ago that
years ago this spring, Amanda Davis began            firmly moored to its Iowa dock, she seriously        involved a huge dredge in the Boston harbor.
working as a shipboard teller for gamblers           injured her neck. Two surgical operations            This clumsy but indispensable silt-remover
having fun on the riverboat Ameristar. While         were required, one of them a fusion.                 had “certain characteristics” common to
carrying a heavy bag of coins, she seriously                                                              seagoing ships, e.g., a captain, a crew,
injured her left wrist.                              The complaint of Beverly Isenhour is to the          navigational lights and a ship’s mess. On the
                                                     same effect. During the Christmas holidays           other hand, the SuperScoop could move only
Throughout the period of Davis’ employment           of 2000 as a change maker and “floor host”           short distances by manipulating anchors and
on the Ameristar, the vessel was more                in the slots department, she suffered severe         cables. For anything more than 30 to 50 feet,
or less permanently anchored in the                  injuries to her back. She is still under a work      the dredge had to rely on a tugboat.
Missouri River. In order to meet Iowa’s              restriction against lifting more than 0 pounds.
gambling laws, the owners of Ameristar                                                                    The question was whether Willard Stewart,
were required to take their ship to sea, so          Manifestly, the several incidents were all           a marine engineer aboard the dredge, could
to speak, for 200 hours every year. Thus,            work-related. Understandably, the three              recover under the Jones Act for the serious
off and on for five months every summer,             plaintiffs sued for benefits under workmen’s         injuries he had suffered in an accident. The
the owners dutifully cruised for two hours           compensation. They won at first. The District        high court held, 8-0, that he could. The law
at dawn up toward Sioux City, down toward            Court of Pottawattamie County sensibly               does not require that a “vessel” be used
St. Joe. In these obligatory runs, Davis was         affirmed that () the women were not                 primarily for “transportation” on water.
never at work or even on board.                      seamen, and (2) the riverboat casinos were           Neither must a vessel be moving at a critical
                                                     not “vessels.” Sense and law are sometimes           juncture: The law is served by vessels that
Jacob J. Peters, counsel for the petitioners,        strangers: On appeal, Iowa’s Supreme Court           only stand and dredge.
says in his brief before the high court: “It         ruled that the plaintiffs are not employees
is important to note that from the time              covered by workmen’s comp. As a matter               Let me urge the court: Take the case from
Amanda started in March of 997 until she            of law, they are seamen protected by the             Iowa! How could the women be sailors when
was injured in March of 999, she was never          federal Jones Act of 920. From that opinion,        they never left the shore?
on the boat when it sailed on the Missouri           the petitioners now appeal.
River. At all times she was working, the                                                                  (Letters to Mr. Kilpatrick should be sent by
boat was moored. Also during that period             The original Jones Act never defined                 e-mail to kilpatjj@aol.com.)
of employment, she received no training or           “seaman,” but several Supreme Court
                                                                                                          COPYRIGHT 2005 UNIVERSAL PRESS
orientation in the boat, its operation, or any       opinions subsequently have put flesh on
of its safety equipment. She was not involved        the bones of the noun. A seaman “must
in any operations other than gambling.”              have an identifiable connection to a vessel
                                                                                                          This feature may not be reproduced or
                                                     in navigation,” and the connection must be
                                                                                                          distributed electronically, in print or
A second co-plaintiff, Helen Falanga, is the         “substantial in terms of both its duration and
                                                                                                          otherwise without the written permission of
only one of the complainants still employed as       its nature.” Moreover, the subject employee
                                                                                                          uclick and Universal Press Syndicate.
a member of a riverboat staff. When the case         must contribute to the “function of the vessel
began, she was a shipboard teller working            or to the accomplishment of its mission.”
out of a bank cage. Her job required her to lug


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