FEDERAL COURT

Judge denies attempt to seek repayment for destroyed floating home

 

A federal judge denied Fane Lozman’s attempt to recoup damages for his destroyed floating home, one year after a Supreme Court victory.

icordle@MiamiHerald.com

Fane Lozman, who won a legal battle over his Riviera Beach floating home last year when the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in his favor, was snubbed Wednesday in his attempt to recoup damages.

U.S. District Judge William P. Dimitrouleas denied Lozman’s motion for $267,497 in damages, or to split $271,318 with the Clerk of the Court as a sanction against Riviera Beach, or even to release a $25,000 bond in his favor.

“Its a slap in the face of the Supreme Court justices that reversed him,” Lozman said, “because they considered the $25,000 bond as a partial substitute for my home that was destroyed.”

Lozman, a self-described “corruption fighter,” took his battle to the U.S. Supreme Court and won in January 2013, in a ruling that has had wide implications for the nation's maritime industry.

The Supreme Court overturned an 11th Circuit Court of Appeals ruling, deciding the city of Riviera Beach could not regulate Lozman's former home as a maritime vessel.

“I've been vindicated,” Lozman said at the time. “My argument from day one when my home was arrested by three armed federal marshals was: ‘You guys don't have jurisdiction. This is a state issue’.... At the end of the day I was right.”

Yet after the latest salvo, Lozman now refers to the battle as a “Pyrrhic victory.”

The $25,000 bond, he said, was for partial payment for the value of his floating home that was seized and destroyed. Lozman cites the fair market value of the two-story, 57-foot, furnished floating home, as $95,000, and the replacement value as $180,000. He said the judge had ordered the city to put up the bond in 2009 to protect his interests if the arrest of the home proved to be improper.

Yet, Judge Dimitrouleas has said in the past that the federal court has no jurisdiction, and entered a previous order that Lozman would have to seek relief in state court. Lozman has argued that the federal court at least should have jurisdiction over the $25,000 bond.

Lozman, 52, a former Marine Corps officer who made his fortune in the commodities trade in Chicago, has built a reputation for civic activism in North Bay Village and Riviera Beach. He now lives between North Bay Village and Miami Beach.

He estimates he has spent $300,000 on his legal battle. He is now analyzing his next step.

“Making me go to the state court or to another court is pathetic,” he said. “What did I win? I didn’t win anything. I won the privilege of spending another two or three years trying to get paid my first penny worth of damages for getting my home destroyed.”

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