Court Rules in Favor of Supreme Court Litigation Clinic Client

In a 7-2 decision yesterday, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in favor of the clinic’s client, Fane Lozman, in Lozman v. City of Riviera Beach.  Lozman owned a floating home that the city in Florida where it was moored seized, contending it was a “vessel” and thus subject to – and, for various reasons, in violation of – maritime law requirements.  The Supreme Court held, however, that a non-motorized floating home is not a vessel under federal admiralty law and reversed the lower court’s decision.  In the process of issuing this ruling, the Court also followed the clinic’s recommendations in establishing generally applicable criteria that will determine whether other kinds of floating structures constitute vessels — everything from floating restaurants and hotels to floating swimming platforms to decommissioned war ships.  The case will thus be a touchstone of maritime law for years to come.  Supreme Court Litigation Clinic students, Matthew Waring (’13), Cathleen Hamel (’13), Will Havemann (’13), and Denise Drake (’13) worked extensively on the case under the supervision of co-directors Pam Karlan, Jeff Fisher and lecturer, Kevin Russell. Jeff Fisher presented oral argument  Joanne Newman also provided outstanding support.  See coverage in the New York Times.