WASHINGTON, Jan 15 (Reuters) - When is a floating home not a vessel? In a ruling on Tuesday, the U.S. Supreme Court told a Florida city its argument did not hold water and an abode on water was nothing but a home.
The court ruled that a floating home which its owner said was permanently moored to a marina in Riviera Beach, Florida, was not a vessel, depriving the city of power under U.S. maritime law to seize and ultimately destroy it.
The definition of "vessel" is particularly important, given that admiralty law imposes different obligations on owners with respect to such things as staffing and taxation.
Writing for a 7-2 majority, Justice Stephen Breyer said there was nothing about the home of Fane Lozman, a trader and former Marine pilot, that could lead a reasonable person to conclude that it was a vessel, but for the fact that it floated.
The case is Lozman v. City of Riviera Beach, Florida, U.S. Supreme Court, No. 11-626. (Reporting by Jonatahn Stempel; Editing by Howard Goller and Mohammad Zargham)