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Maritime Law--Lozman's "Floating Home" Saga Ends at SCOTUS

The U.S. Supreme Court has rejected Fane Lozman's latest appeal in his landmark case involving the seizure and destruction of his floating home. The justices denied without comment Mr. Lozman's petition asking them to enforce their 2013 ruling by ordering the city of Riviera Beach to pay him about $365,000 for the home's value and legal fees. Lower courts also ruled against Mr. Lozman, and this was his last appeal.

Fane Lozman and his dog with floating home in foreground
Picture from the Associated Press

The ruling obtained by Mr. Lozman in 2013 set a new standard for floating homes and other structures. As posted previously in this blog, the ruling meant that federal maritime law that calls for seizure under Supplemental Rule C could no longer be applied to disputes involving floating structures that have no traditional characteristics of a vessel, such as an engine, rudder or sails. As reported by such news sources as the AP, the Daily Business Review and other well known sources, the decision has affected thousands of floating homes and business owners across the U.S., including floating gambling casinos docked on rivers. In the cases currently before the courts, maritime lawyers, including our office, are taking a closer look at the right cases to evaluate whether the alleged vessel, is in fact a vessel under Mr. Lozman's precedent setting case. 

However in this latest submission to the U.S. Supreme Court, Mr. Lozman contended that the city should reimburse him the estimated $165,000 value of the floating home destroyed, plus $200,000 in legal fees. The city relied on a vessel survey expert to suggest that the amount of his vessel was worth far less than the amounts demanded by Mr. Lozman. The city also argued that it should not be forced to pay Mr. Lozman's attorney's fees because it was acting in good faith under the applicable law at the time before the Supreme Court decision. The city's view was adopted in full by the district court judge and upheld by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit. Mr. Lozman's position before the Supreme Court is that these lower court rulings rejecting full reimbursement for his home, when what the lower courts are doing is attempting to provide a pyhrric victory by reimbursing him only for a destroyed vessel, worth considerably less. Mr. Lozman's  position is that these rulings fly in the face of the original Supreme Court decision.


If you are interested in obtaining in reading Mr. Lozman's brief to the U.S. Supreme Court, please feel free to contact me via this blog or at blog@miamimaritimelaw.co.

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