Best Lawsuit (2012)

Fane Lozman vs. the City of Riviera Beach, Florida

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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