TribLIVE

| USWorld


 
Larger text Larger text Smaller text Smaller text | Order Photo Reprints

Houseboat is home, not vessel, justices rule

Daily Photo Galleries

By The Los Angeles Times
Tuesday, Jan. 15, 2013, 7:06 p.m.
 

WASHINGTON — A house that sits on the water is a floating home, not a vessel, the Supreme Court ruled on Tuesday.

The 7-2 decision upholds laws in California, Washington and other states that say houseboats are governed by local laws applying to homes, not maritime law that regulates vessels.

Justice Stephen Breyer said a vessel is something that is “actually used for transportation.” It is not “anything that floats,” he added.

The high court ruling is a victory for a Florida man who parked his gray, two-story houseboat at a marina in Rivera Beach, Fla. City officials later seized it for unpaid fees and had it destroyed. Their decision was upheld under federal maritime law.

The owner, Fane Lozman, appealed to the Supreme Court, arguing that his home would have been protected from seizure under ordinary laws governing real estate.

The justices agreed and sent the case back to Florida, where Lozman can seek to recover a $25,000 bond that was set aside.

It is not clear what the ruling will mean for riverboat casinos, an issue the court did not discuss.

Joining Breyer's opinion were Chief Justice John Roberts, and Associate Justices Antonin Scalia, Clarence Thomas, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Samuel Alito and Elena Kagan.

Justice Sonia Sotomayor, joined by Justice Anthony Kennedy, dissented, in the term's first dissenting votes from a full court opinion. Sotomayor objected to the “reasonable observer” standard adopted by the majority.

 

 
 


Show commenting policy

Most-Read Nation

  1. FAA reviews contingency plans, security policies after Chicago air traffic control center fire
  2. Intruder made it to East Room of White House, overpowered Secret Service officer
  3. Cost of taking fight to ISIS pegged at $2.4B to $6.8B a year
  4. NSA relies on 1981 executive order signed by Reagan
  5. Supreme Court blocks start of early Ohio voting
  6. Police link 2 more cases to University of Virginia suspect
  7. Schools grapple with immigration overload
  8. Obama pushes climate treaty
  9. Security whips up service problems at CIA Starbucks
  10. Weather extremes linked to global warming
  11. Chicago flights resume after fire delayed travel in Pittsburgh, elsewhere
Subscribe today! Click here for our subscription offers.