Supreme Court: Floating home not covered under maritime law

Supreme Court rules in favor of houseboat owner

RIVIERA BEACH, Fla. - The Supreme Court says a Florida man's floating home was a house, not a boat, and not covered under maritime law.

The high court on Tuesday ruled 7-2 for Fane Lozman, who argued that his gray, two-story vessel in the marina in Riviera Beach, Fla., should not have been affected by maritime law.

"I started with a loud-pitch scream," said Lozman. "To finally be vindicated, to have the highest court in the land say you were right. It's just an indescribable feeling."

City officials used U.S. maritime law to impose a lien on Lozman's property. Lozman argued that it was a house, which would have given it some protection from seizure under state law. Federal judges sided with the city, and the property was seized and destroyed.

"U.S. Marshals came to my floating home with body armor and sidearms," said Lozman. "I couldn't believe this was happening."

The court, in an opinion by Justice Stephen Breyer, said that decision was wrong. Justices Sonia Sotomayor and Anthony Kennedy dissented.

The City of Riviera Beach issued no comment to Local 10's Bob Norman last year. Lozman said the ruling is a victory for thousands of floating homeowners.

"What happened to me cannot happen to them," he said.

Lozman plans on seeking damages from the city.

More than 5,000 Americans own floating homes.

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