Sandy Martinez has lived in or around Lantana, a South Florida town outside of West Palm Beach, for most of her life. In 2004, she achieved a part of the American Dream when she purchased a home there.
The city fined her more than $100,000—at a rate of $250 per day—for violating an ordinance regulating how one can park their car on their own driveway. When stacked on top of the astronomical fines the city imposed for two other trivial code violations—$47,375 for a storm-damaged fence and $16,125 for cracks in her driveway, each of which she fixed as soon as she could afford to—Lantana has fined Sandy over $165,000. That outrageous amount is nearly four times her annual income and more than half the value of her home.
But the government cannot lock you into a lifetime of crushing debt for such harmless code infractions. That is because Florida’s Constitution clearly forbids “excessive fines.” To fight back, she’s teamed up with the Institute for Justice (IJ) to file a lawsuit in Florida state court to hold the city accountable for this unconstitutional behavior.