LOZMAN v. CITY OF RIVIERA BEACH, FLORIDA was a case brought upon the Supreme Court questioning what kind of floating structures fall under maritime jurisdiction. The Supreme Court’s ruling in this case was decided after an immense struggle of questions pertaining to an array of issues. These issues, among others, include the definition of the word “vessel” and the necessities needed for a watercraft to be practically capable of maritime transportation.
Fane Lozman was the owner of a floating home that was moored in the marina of the city of Rivera Beach, Florida starting in 2006. However, this home was definitely not a houseboat. The home was more of a floating structure with all the amenities of a land based home. It was a sixty foot by twelve foot home containing a sitting room, bedroom, closet, bathroom, kitchen, and stairway leading to a second level office space, with an empty bilge space underneath the main floor that keep it floating. His home had no engines or self-propulsion capabilities, no ability to steer and no navigation tools.
The City of Rivera Beach, Florida, after many unsuccessful attempts to evict Lozman from the marina, used federal admiralty law to win a judgment for unpaid dockage fees and damages for trespassing. A federal district judge and then later the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit agreed that the floating home was covered under federal law that defined a vessel as including “every description of watercraft or other artificial contrivance used, or capable of being used, as a means of transportation on water.” The city eventually bought the floating home when it was being auctioned off to satisfy the judgment and had it destroyed.
The City of Riviera Beach focused its argument on the phrase "capable of being used" included in the federal definition of vessel. The City supported its position that the houseboat was "capable of being used" for...