Lozman v. Riviera Beach

Lozman v. Riviera Beach, 585 U.S. ___ (2018), is a United States Supreme Court in which the Court decided that the mere existence of probable cause for an arrest did not bar a plaintiff's First Amendment retaliation claim.[1] The Supreme Court, in reversing a lower appellate panel, explained that the public criticism Lozman expressed at a city council meeting, where he had been arrested, was protected speech. The existence of a cause to arrest him for his outburst did not override the city's potential liability in retaliating against him for his public criticism.

Lozman v. Riviera Beach
Seal of the United States Supreme Court
Argued February 27, 2017
Decided June 18, 2018
Full case nameFane Lozman v. City of Riviera Beach, Florida
Docket no.17-21
Citations585 U.S. ___ (more)
138 S. Ct. 1945; 201 L. Ed. 2d 342
Case history
PriorJury verdict for defendant, Lozman v. City of Riviera Beach, No. 9:08-cv-80134, 728 (S.D. Fla. Dec 17, 2014); affirmed, 681 F. App'x 746 (11th Cir. 2017); cert. granted, 138 S. Ct. 447 (2017).
Existence of probable cause to arrest the plaintiff in the present case does not bar the plaintiff's First Amendment retaliation claim.
Court membership
Chief Justice
John Roberts
Associate Justices
Anthony Kennedy · Clarence Thomas
Ruth Bader Ginsburg · Stephen Breyer
Samuel Alito · Sonia Sotomayor
Elena Kagan · Neil Gorsuch
Case opinions
MajorityKennedy, joined by Roberts, Ginsburg, Breyer, Alito, Sotomayor, Kagan, Gorsuch
Laws applied
42 U.S.C. § 1983

The Court sent the case back to the lower court to reconsider its dismissal of Lozman's claim.[2]


Fane Lozman sued the city of Riviera Beach, Florida over a planned use of eminent domain, arguing the city had violated open-meeting laws in approving a private development plan.[3] Afterwards, he alleged the city council held a closed-door session where several city council members proposed an effort to "intimidate" Lozman and others who had filed lawsuits against the city."[3] Lozman later appeared at a meeting of the city council, criticizing their work with a separate manner, when he was instructed to stop speaking.[2] After refusing, Lozman was arrested.[3]

Afterwards, Lozman filed suit against the city, alleging retaliation against his speech.

Opinion of the CourtEdit

The majority opinion by Justice Anthony Kennedy held that the existence of probable cause to arrest Lozman, which had been the reason lower courts dismissed his suit, did not immunize the city from the retaliatory claim.[4] Kennedy stressed that the decision was narrow, based on the circumstances of Lozman's specific case. Snyder 2019, p. 445

Justice Clarence Thomas dissented from the Court's judgement, writing that the plaintiff "must plead and prove a lack of probable cause as an element of a First Amendment retaliatory-arrest claim."[5]


  1. ^ Lozman v. Riviera Beach, No. 17-21, 585 U.S. ___, 138 S. Ct. 1945 (2018).   This article incorporates public domain material from this U.S government document.
  2. ^ a b Barnes, Robert (June 18, 2018). "Supreme Court allows retaliatory arrest lawsuit to move forward". Washington Post. Retrieved November 11, 2019.
  3. ^ a b c Lozman, 585 U.S. ___ at 5-6.
  4. ^ Lozman, 585 U.S. ___ at 8-9.
  5. ^ Lozman, 585 U.S. ___ at 17.


  • Snyder, Jesse D. H. (2019). "'What Fane Lozman Can Teach Us About Free Speech". Wyoming Law Review. 19 (2): 419–451.

External linksEdit