The legal definition of what constitutes a lake was the focus of a court hearing concerning a tourist boat accident in Missouri that killed 17 people.
The Kansas City Star reports a federal judge heard arguments Thursday on whether Table Rock Lake in Branson is a "navigable waterway."
A ruling on that question could determine the scope of damages Ripley Entertainment would be required to pay to survivors or relatives of people who died when a duck boat sank in July on the lake.
Ripley, the owner of the Ride the Ducks operation, argues an 1851 law limits the amount of damages it would have to pay - if Table Rock Lake is a navigable waterway.
The plaintiffs' attorneys contend the law doesn't apply.
The judge did not rule after Thursday's hearing.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.