Jury Deliberates in Towboat Operators' Lawsuit

MARCH 14, 2006 - Posted at 4:08 p.m. CST

EAST ST. LOUIS, IL - Jurors have begun deliberations in the cae of five former towboat workers who claim they were wrongly fired for refusing to push oversized barge configurations on U.S. rivers.

The case went to the federal jury in East St. Louis, Illinois, today after nearly three hours of closing arguments.

The five workers were employed by Decatur-based American River Transportation Company until 2003.

They contend they were fired for refusing to push the so-called "super-tows."  They contend such tows are unsafe to their crews and threaten to damage bridges and riverboat casinos.

But attorneys for the company say the five were laid off, not fired, during a business slowdown.  And the company says there was never any order for anyone to push the super-tows.

(Copyright 2006 by The Associated Press.  All Rights Reserved.)