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Houseboat Owner Takes Eviction Case to the Max

(CN) - A dispute over a houseboat docked at a Florida marina will head to the Supreme Court for review, the justices said Tuesday.

Fane Lozman docked his unnamed boat in North Bay Village, Fla., in 2002 and lived there until Hurricane Wilma struck in late 2005. In March 2006, he towed the ship to the Riviera Beach marina and continued using the boat as his primary residence for the next three years, an arrangement that required him to pay a nearly $1,200 monthly dockage fee.

Lozman claims he helped scuttle a plan to let a private developer take charge of the marina in 2006, and that the city retaliated against him by cooking up bogus charges for an eviction. The purported reasons included failure to muzzle Lozman's 10-pound dachshund and hiring unlicensed boat-repair workers.

Though Lozman beat the eviction proceedings at a jury trial in 2007, the marina tried to evict him by finding that he had failed to comply with newly passed rules. Two years later, as Lozman failed to bring his vessel into compliance, the city filed an admirality suit alleging trespass and seeking to foreclose maritime liens for city dockage.

The U.S. Marshal arrested Lozman's ship in April 2009, and towed it 80 miles to Miami. A judge ultimately said Lozman owed more than $3,000 for dockage and late fees, and the city bought the ship to satisfy that judgment.

In August 2011, the 11th Circuit upheld these decisions. Lozman got a new shot on Tuesday, however, persuading the Supreme Court to grant his petition for certiorari.

The justices did not comment on the case except to say that the iMaritime Law Association of the United States can filed an amicus curiae brief.

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