Isle of Capri Casino v. Diane Wilson

[B]Case Name: [/B][I]Isle of Capri Casino[/I] [I]v. Diane Wilson
[/I][B]Date Decided: [/B]September 2, 2009
[B]Court: [/B]Court of Appeals of Iowa
[B]Judge: [/B]Judge Kelley
[B]Citation: [/B]2009 WL 2960406 (Iowa App.)[B]Background:
[/B]Diane Wilson (“Wilson”) appealed the district court’s dismissal of her workers’ compensation claim benefits after finding that the Iowa Workers’ Compensation Commission did not have jurisdiction of the case.

Wilson was employed as a housekeeper at the Isle of Capri Casino (“Casino”) riverboat casino and hotel. While working, Wilson fell on ice and was injured while taking out the trash to the casino’s trash compactor.

Wilson sought workers’ compensation benefits and the casino denied the claim alleging that the action was governed by the Jones Act.

A district court held that the commission did not have jurisdiction over the claim and Wilson appealed.

[/B]Did the district Court err in determining that Wilson’s claim is not governed by Iowa’s Workers’ Compensation Act?

[/B]Iowa law provides that if an injured worker is covered by a federal compensation statute, Iowa’s workers’ compensation laws do not apply.

This Court recognized that if an employee is a “Seaman” under the Jones Act, the workers’ compensation commission lacks subject matter jurisdiction to award benefits.

At issue, this Court examined whether the casino boat was a “vessel”. This Court found that because the casino boat was capable of being used as a means of maritime transportation and had not lost its character despite its permanent moorage.

This Court found the casino boat to be a vessel under the Jones Act because at the time of the injury the Isle of Capri was fully capable of sailing. This Court found that the district court correctly determined there was not substantial evidence to support the Commission’s finding that the casino was permanently moored at the time of Wilson’s accident, despite an Iowa law forbidding craft, such as the Casino boat, from sailing.

Accordingly this Court affirmed the district court’s ruling that Wilson’s claim was not governed by the Iowa’s Workers Compensation Act.

Under the Jones Act, a seaman must have a substantial connection with a vessel. *The “vessel test”, under the Supreme Court, “requires only that a watercraft be used or [I]capable of being used[/I], as a means of transportation on water” to qualify as a vessel. [/B]

[B]It does not matter that the watercraft be used primarily for that purpose. [/B]

[B]Steve Gordon [/B]