The opinion of the court was delivered by: ARLANDER KEYS, Magistrate Judge
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
Currently before the Court is Defendant's Motion to Dismiss. Plaintiff, a
patron in Defendant's riverboat casino, sued Defendant under Federal
Admiralty and Maritime Laws, 28 U.S.C. § 1333(1) (West 2005), for injuries
suffered while in the casino. Defendant moves to dismiss for lack of
jurisdiction. The Court agrees and, for the reasons set forth below, grants
On August 19, 2001, Plaintiff, Lucille Tagliere, entered the
premises of Defendant Harrah's Illinois Corporation, d/b/a
Harrah's Casino Joliet (Harrah's Casino), a riverboat casino, to
gamble and otherwise patronize Harrah's Casino. While there, Ms.
Tagliere apparently sat upon a chair, fell to the floor, and
suffered "severe injuries of a personal and pecuniary nature."
Pl.'s Comp. at ¶¶ 11-12. Ms. Tagliere alleges that Harrah's
negligence was the direct and proximate cause of her injuries. Id. at ¶¶ 10-12.
At the time of Ms. Tagliere's accident, Harrah's Casino was a
permanently moored riverboat.*fn1 See Aff. Of Brent
Willits. On June 26, 1999, the Illinois legislature amended
existing laws to allow dockside gambling on moored vessels.
Harrah's riverboat has not been used to transport cargo or
passengers since that time. Aff. Of Brent Willits.
Ms. Tagliere filed suit in federal court on August 10, 2004.
The case was originally assigned to Judge David H. Coar.
Defendant filed a Motion to Dismiss for lack of subject matter
jurisdiction on October 26, 2004. On December 3, 2004, the
parties consented to proceed before a Magistrate Judge, and the
case was reassigned to this Court.
Plaintiff asserts that this Court has jurisdiction over this
matter pursuant to the Federal Admiralty and Maritime Laws of the
United States, 28 U.S.C. § 1331(1) (West 2005). Defendant
disagrees, arguing that the Seventh Circuit has recently ruled
that federal courts do not have maritime jurisdiction over
permanently moored casinos, citing Howard v. Southern Illinois Riverboat Casino Cruises, Inc. 364 F.3d 854 (7th Cir.
Defendant overstates the Seventh Circuit's holding. In
Howard, the Seventh Circuit analyzed whether an employee
injured while working on a moored casino can sue his employer
under the Jones Act, 46 App U.S.C.A. § 688(a). Id. at 858. A
plaintiff satisfies the jurisdictional requirements of the Jones
Act if he can demonstrate that: 1) his duties contributed to the
function of the vessel; and 2) he has a "`substantial
employment-related connection to a vessel in navigation.'"
Id. at 856 (emphasis added) (quoting Chandris, Inc. v.
Latsis, 515 U.S. 347, 373 (1995). In focusing upon whether a
moored casino riverboat is a vessel in navigation, the court
looked to the casino's purpose and actual use. The court
concluded that "an indefinitely moored dockside casino with no
transportation function or purpose is not a vessel `in
navigation.'" Howard, 364 F.3d at 857.
Notably, the test for determining jurisdiction under the Jones
Act is different from the test for determining jurisdiction under
general admiralty and maritime law; unlike the dispute presented
in the Howard case, the present inquiry does not hinge upon the
existence of a "vessel in navigation."
Traditionally, in determining whether federal admiralty or
maritime jurisdiction exists, courts analyzed whether the tort occurred on navigable waters. Jerome B. Grubart, Inc. v. Great
Lakes Dredge & Dock Co., 513 U.S. 527, 531 (1995). The United
States Supreme Court further refined the test, in Executive Jet
Aviation, Inc. V. City of Cleveland, 409 U.S. 249 (1972), by
requiring parties seeking federal maritime jurisdiction to also
establish that the underlying incident had some connection with
maritime activity. Id. at 534.
Three subsequent Supreme Court opinions further defined the
scope of the new "nexus test" announced in Executive Jet. In
Foremost Ins. Co. v. Richardson, 457 U.S. 668, 675 (1982), the
Court found that the collision of two pleasure boats had the
requisite nexus to maritime activity, because of the potentially
disruptive impact the collision may have had on maritime
commerce, coupled with the traditional admiralty court concern
over navigation. In Sisson v. Ruby, 497 U.S. 358, 362 (1990),
the Court restated the nexus test, requiring: 1) the potential
disruptive impact on maritime commerce; and 2) the activity
giving rise to the incident must bear a substantial relationship
to maritime commerce. The Sisson Court instructed that the
proper analysis must focus on the general features of the
incident involved, and must look at the potential, as opposed to
actual, disruption to commerce. Id. at 363.
Finally, in Jerome B. Grubart, Inc. v. Great Lakes Dredge &
Dock Co., 513 U.S. 527, 539 (1995), the Supreme Court again noted that the first prong of the nexus test turned on "a description
of the incident at an intermediate level of possible generality."
The second prong of the nexus test hinged upon "whether a
tortfeasor's activity . . . is so closely related to activity
traditionally subject to admiralty law ...