Casino workers sue under 'seaman' proviso

Steve Gonzalez Jul. 20, 2006, 6:50am

The "home of the loosest slots" was named in two separate Jones Act suits filed in St. Clair County Circuit Court on allegations that the riverboat gambling facility failed to provide two employees safe places to work.

The first suit against Casino Queen filed July 10 on behalf of Jacob Strangle, claims he sustained severe and permanent injuries while in the performance of his duties on Aug. 16, 2002.

Strangle claims the casino failed to provide sufficient manpower and failed to correct a condition it knew existed that causes the lifting of heavy objects to be more difficult.

He claims he sustained injuries to his neck, shoulders and back which caused great pain, disability, anxiety, and disfigurement.

The second suit filed three days later claims bartender Benjamin Snyder injured his right shoulder on Dec. 10, 2004, while performing bartending duties.

Snyder, represented by John Hustava of Collinsville, claims his injuries have caused him to seek medical care and suffer a wage loss.

Strangle is represented by William Gavin of Belleville.

In April, The Illinois Appellate Court ruled that employees who work on the Alton Belle Casino are "seamen" and can sue for damages under the Jones Act, a statute that provides a means for recovering legal damages for maritime workers.

The court ruled that even though the casino no longer cruised on the river, it was still a vessel in navigation. The Casino Queen also quit taking cruises.

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