House boat not covered under maritime law, Supreme Court rules

, The Associated Press


Fane Lozman

Millionaire financial trader Fane Lozman moved to a houseboat in Riviera Beach after hitting it big in the financial markets in Chicago. What he found was not peace though, but a legal fight that went all the way to U.S. Supreme Court.

Even though Lozman lost his beloved houseboat — and his belongings — when it was towed in April 2009 from Palm Beach County and burned on the Miami River, he said Tuesday's outcome was well worth it.

The court ruled 7-2 that houseboats constitute homes, not vessels, and are not subject to maritime law.

"I really believe in levitation because I'm floating on a cloud as I speak to you. I look at the positive of this. I saved thousands, tens of thousands of floating homeowners," Lozman told the Daily Business Review. "I did a good deed and saved them from having to go through the horror show that I did."

More than 5,000 Americans own floating homes, and there are more than 60 floating casinos in the United States.

Lozman recalled the day when armed federal marshals took his houseboat to Miami, where it was burned, because Riviera Beach wanted him out of the marina to make way for development. He noted 2,200 homes also were taken by eminent domain as part of a large-scale waterfront redevelopment plan.

The case centered on an $800 lien but cost him $300,000 in legal fees. He believes the city probably spent twice that much and recently laid off employees.

"I call for the voters to vote that city council out," Lozman said. "They are laying off people, but somehow they have an unlimited piggybank to keep a marina from remaining public."

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