Houseboat or vessel: Fight over man's home headed to Supreme Court

RIVIERA BEACH, Fla. -- Fane Lozman has been in a legal battle with the City of Riviera Beach for several years over what he calls his "houseboat."

The debate is now heading to the Supreme Court.

The big question that Supreme Court justices will have to decide is whether Lozman's floating structure is a home or a vessel.

It's a landmark case that could mean big changes for the boating community.
 
Just because it floats, doesn't mean it's a boat is Loxman's claim.

One he's been arguing since 2009 when his floating home was demolished by the City of Riviera Beach.

"I'm angry that the City of Riviera Beach destroyed all of my home and all of my furniture," Lozman said in a phone conversation Sunday.

He's getting ready for his argument to be heard at the Supreme Court Monday.

"It's exciting that the Supreme Court is taking on this issue that we are all very familiar with and hearing about for years," legal analyst Michelle Suskauer said.

A federal judge recently ruled Lozman's floating home was a "vessel" and not a house.

The definition of a vessel though is what justices will have to rule on.

Appeals courts have issued conflicting decisions on the issue.

"Different states around the country understand what a floating structure is. Their definition is that it's not a means of transportation it's just an extension of the land," Lozman said.

The case is being watched closely around the country by people who live on the water and commercial businesses like floating casinos.

"What is going to be interesting when this case is argued is listening to the justice's questions to the attorneys," Suskauer said.

Lozman believes the justices will side with his argument and not the City of Riviera Beach's.

"The 11th circuit, which is Florida, Georgia and Alabama is drifting away from what is a vessel and what is a floating structure," Lozman said.

Lozman says if he does win, he's going to move another houseboat back in the local marina.

Riviera Beach attorney believes the Supreme Court will mainly be trying to settle differences in rulings that happened in lower courts about the definition of a vessel.

It's expected to take a few months before a decision on this case is made.

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