This is a true story of a persistent and tenacious underdog who fought against the governmental seizure of 2200 homes and businesses in 2006 only to see that same government arrest and destroy his floating home three years later, for an alleged failure to pay one month’s rent at the marina. Fane Lozman did not give up but continued the improbable climb from a county court eviction case to the US Supreme Court.
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They say the man who represents himself has a fool for a client, but this long-running David-and-Goliath case just might end with a local government looking like the fool.
It all started in 2006, when Lozman, a retired Chicago financier with plenty of money to burn on justice, claimed he had been illegally evicted from his floating home in Riviera Beach because of his activism against last-minute plans to sell the marina to a developer using eminent domain. He won that case, but the city stayed on his heels, coming after him with all kinds of accusations (he owed fees to the marina; his ten-pound dachshund was too dangerous). Lozman resisted, and — long story short — the feds towed away his house.
Last year, the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that federal authorities had the right to do so, since his house was technically a vessel, subject to federal maritime law. Lozman balked at the ruling — his house, since destroyed, didn’t even have engines or steering — and petitioned the highest court in the land to decide what, exactly, distinguishes a boat from a house. The court picked his case, and it will be heard in October.
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