The U.S. District Court for the
Western District of Missouri  
heard arguments as to
whether admiralty
jurisdiction exists for claims
stemming from the tragic
sinking of the Ride the Ducks
tour boat that sank on Table
Rock Lake in the Ozarks, near
Branson Missouri.

The Court also heard
arguments about the standing
to invoke the Limitation of
Liability Act. This is the
legislation that enables
defendants in boating
accidents, Jones Act cases,
cruise ship accidents, and
other maritime lawsuits to try
to reduce payments to injured
plaintiffs in litigation involving
bodily injury or wrongful

The parties briefed the issues
before the Court, and after
thorough review, the Court
determined that admiralty
jurisdiction did not arise.  
Ride the Ducks International
lacked standing under the
Limitation of Liability Act,
which applies to an owner of a
vessel (including charterer
that mans, supplies, and
navigates a vessel at the
charterer's own expense or
by the charterer's own
procurement.”  46 U.S.C.A. §

Here, Ride the Ducks
International was not an
owner or charterer of the
vessel involved in the accident
19, 2018 disaster. It was noted
that the Lake of the Ozarks is
not navigable in fact because
of the existence of the Bagnell
Dam. Neither the possibility of
future navigation in the event
the Army Corps of Engineers
removes the dam nor the prior
alleged navigability of the
Osage River before the
existence of the dam alters the
present facts. The lake cannot
be negotiated past the dam.
Present navigability is the
standard, and present
navigability, as we construe it
for admiralty and like
purposes, is not possible on
the Lake of the Ozarks” (Case

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The Court found that Table
Rock Lake is not subject to
admiralty jurisdiction. The
Court finds the Limitation
Plaintiffs’ complaints should
be and hereby are

The Court’s ruling on
jurisdiction for purposes of
invoking the Limitation of
Liability Act in this case shall
not be construed to apply to
jurisdictional issues related to
any criminal proceedings
arising out of the July 19, 2018
incident.  Jurisdictional issues
relating to the criminal
proceedings, if any, shall be
taken up by the Court in the
criminal case if and when
such issues are raised by the
parties to those proceedings.   
Case 6:18-cv-03339-MDH