Best Gadfly - 2013
In 2006, Fane Lozman, a Marine pilot who became a millionaire after he invented and patented a financial trading software program, docked his houseboat in Riviera Beach, and the drama began. After he stood up for everyday boaters by blocking big developers from taking over the city marina, city officials retaliated. He was slapped with infractions for walking his ten-pound dog without a muzzle and for disobeying boating regulations. Then came serious vindictiveness. Riviera Beach, with help from U.S. marshals citing federal maritime law, seized and destroyed Lozman's floating home. Lozman wasn't going down like that. "I did not care how much of my personal time it would take or how much it would cost or how long it would take — I vowed that I would get justice," Lozman later explained. He waged a yearslong legal battle against the city, ultimately scoring a major victory in January, when the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the city and marshals had been wrong to seize his home by classifying it as a vessel. Wrote Justice Breyer, "Not every floating structure is a 'vessel.' To state the obvious, a wooden washtub, a plastic dishpan, a swimming platform on pontoons, a large fishing net, a door taken off its hinges, or Pinocchio (when inside the whale) are not 'vessels.' " At presstime, Lozman was still looking to recoup the value of his home, his furniture, and his legal bills, but he swore he had more corrupt officials in his sights.