Federal Court Rules Florida Man Must Pay City $30,000 in Overgrown Lawn Fines

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If reading about Dunedin, Florida homeowner Jim Ficken’s recent brush with the law(n) doesn’t motivate you to hop on your riding mower, nothing will.

On April 26, a federal court upheld the Gulf Coast city’s decision to issue 71-year-old Ficken nearly $30,000 in fines for allowing his grass to exceed the requisite 10 inches in height for several months in the summer of 2018. The city claims the long grass could “draw snakes, rats or other vermin” and hurt neighborhood property values, according to WLNS.

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“I am disappointed that the court sided with Dunedin, but what happened to me is wrong, and I will continue to fight,” Ficken, who is represented by attorneys Ari Bargil and Andrew Ward of the Institute for Justice (IJ), said, according to an IJ press release.

In July 2018, Ficken left town to see to his late mother’s South Carolina estate. During his absence, his lawn became overgrown by city standards because his landscaper died, he said. Such code violations are punishable by a fine of as much as $500 per day, according to The Tampa Bay Times. By the time Ficken returned home two months later, he owed the city an enormous sum of money: $29,833.50, to be exact.

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