The U.S. Supreme Court ruled for the owner of a floating home in a decision that may shield dockside casinos from some lawsuits by workers and customers.
The justices’ 7-2 decision limited the reach of federal maritime law. The court said the disputed Florida home didn’t qualify as a “vessel” under the law because it wasn’t designed to carry people or things over the water.
The ruling is a victory for Fane Lozman, whose 60-foot, two-story home was the subject of a years-long dispute with the Florida city of Riviera Beach. The city, saying Lozman owed $3,000 in dockage fees, used federal maritime law to seize the home and later destroy it.
The decision is also a win for the casino industry and at least 60 floating casinos. The American Gaming Association told the justices that a ruling against Lozman might have forced casinos to defend against a new category of lawsuits under federal laws designed to protect seamen and harbor workers.
The case is Lozman v. City of Riviera Beach, 11-626.
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