Told their treehouse must go, owners appeal to Supreme Court

by
January 8, 2018

Lynn Tran and Richard Hazen built a Florida beachfront treehouse that would be the envy of any child. It’s got two levels, hammocks and windows looking out on the Gulf of Mexico.

But the hangout has cost the couple a handsome sum: about $30,000 to construct and probably five times that in legal fees as they’ve fought local authorities over it, Tran said. Now, they’re at their last stop, the Supreme Court. Unless the high court intervenes, the treehouse must be torn down.

The justices had their first opportunity to consider taking the case at a closed-door conference Friday, and a decision on whether they will weigh in could come as early as Monday.

The couple’s lawyer, David Levin, acknowledges the case is unlikely to be accepted by the justices, who only hear argument in about 80 of the thousands of cases they’re asked to take each year. But he argues that his clients’ rights were violated when a Florida court “rubber stamped” a ruling proposed by the city of Holmes Beach without any evidence of independent consideration.

Tran and Hazen haven’t been willing to give up on the structure she calls their “getaway.”

“Part of me still believes there’s got to be justice out there and we didn’t do anything wrong,” Tran said in a telephone interview.

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