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Lantana woman sues town after incurring more than $100,000 in parking fines

Sandy Martinez claims fines stem from way she parked vehicles in driveway
Sandy Martinez, suing Lantana for excessive parking fines
Posted at 11:07 AM, Feb 25, 2021
and last updated 2021-02-25 18:56:12-05

LANTANA, Fla. — A Lantana woman is suing the town after incurring more than $100,000 in parking fines outside her home.

Sandy Martinez and the Institute for Justice held a news conference Thursday to discuss the lawsuit.

WATCH FULL NEWS CONFERENCE:

Lantana woman, lawyers announce lawsuit over parking fines

Martinez claimed the way she parked her vehicles in her driveway resulted in more than a year's worth of daily fines totaling in excess of $100,000.

"I've been living here for 17 years now and I'm being fined over $160,000 for parking on my own property," Martinez said.

Ari Bargil, an attorney with the Institute for Justice, said the fines are excessive and violate the state Constitution.

"That's really what this case is about is excessive fines," Bargil said. "We are here in this driveway because of a $100,000 parking violation. And added on top of that are $65,000 in more fines for cosmetic violations that my client fixed years ago, for cracks in the driveway and for a broken fence after a storm."

Ari Bargil, attorney for Sandy Martinez discusses Lantana lawsuit
Ari Bargil, an attorney with the Institute for Justice, says the fines levied against Sandy Martinez are excessive and violate the state Constitution.

Bargil called the amount of the fines "catastrophic."

"The government doesn't have the power to impose the financial death penalty for trivial violations," he said.

Mike Greenberg, who also represents Martinez, said Lantana fined Martinez $250 per day "for the harmless offense of parking her car partially on her own front lawn."

Greenberg said Martinez rectified the violation immediately, but the town requires a code inspector to verify that the issue has been resolved.

Sandy Martinez points to the driveway and sidewalk outside her Lantana home that led to more than $100,000 in parking fines
Sandy Martinez points to the driveway and sidewalk outside her Lantana home that led to more than $100,000 in parking fines. Her attorney, Ari Bargil, looks on as she explains how the town fined her for parking on the grass and rocks between the driveway and sidewalk.

"I think it's ridiculous that they're charging so much in fines for something so small," Martinez said.

Martinez told reporters that she repeatedly "left voice mail after voice mail" with the town to get someone to come to her home, but she eventually quit calling after "playing phone tag."

"They let the fines run for over a year, and that's ridiculous," she said.

Nicole Dritz, the town's development services director, said Lantana agreed to reduce the fines to $25,000 on the condition that Martinez pay by Dec. 18, 2020. When Martinez failed to pay, the original fines were reinstated.

Bargil said they're not suing for monetary damages.

"We're suing, asking the court to issue a declaratory judgment that says that the fines imposed against Sandy are unconstitutionally excessive because they're grossly disproportionate to the offense," he said. "We're not asking for money. We're fighting on principle on behalf of Sandy."