When is a Boat not a Boat?
Last week the Supreme Court heard arguments to decide if a Florida floating home was a vessel or not.
On one side of the argument was Riviera Beach which in 2009 had the structure arrested, towed away and later destroyed.
On the other side was homeowner Fane Lozman, who said that the city’s legal position stretched the definition of a vessel beyond common sense.
Lozman argued that the structure, which had French doors and no steering or motor, was a house in every way except for the fact it floated.
The gambling industry has kept a close eye on the case as it doesn’t want dockside casinos being treated as vessels.
Nearly every justice came to challenge the city’s argument that a vessel is any structure that is practically capable of moving people or things over water.
Justice Elena Kagan asked if an inner tube with money taped to it was considered a vessel if it moved across water, while Justice Stephen Breyer asked about Styrofoam sofas.
The city’s lawyer did seem to have a difficult time defending his legal test of a vessel. Lozman’s lawyer, Jeffrey Fisher, said that the vessel should be determined based upon the purpose of the structure.
A ruling is expected in June.