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.
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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."
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.
"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."