The Supreme Court of the United States announced a decision in one case this morning:
Lozman v. Riviera Beach, No. 11-626: Petitioner had a non-self-propelled “floating home” – a house-like plywood structure with empty bilge space under the floor to keep it afloat – docked at a marina owned by the city of Riviera Beach (City). The City brought a federal admiralty lawsuit in rem against Petitioner’s floating home for dockage fees and trespass damages. The District Court denied Petitioner’s motion to dismiss for lack of admiralty jurisdiction, on the basis that the floating home was a “vessel” under the Rules of Construction Act, 1 U.S.C. § 3, which defines a “vessel” as including “every description of watercraft or other artificial contrivance used, or capable of being used, as a means of transportation on water.” The Eleventh Circuit, in turn, affirmed. Today, the Supreme Court reversed, holding that the floating home is not a “vessel,” because “a reasonable observer, looking to the home’s physical characteristics and activities, would not consider it to be designed to any practical degree for carrying people or things on water.”
The Court's decision is available here.