Florida City Dismisses Lawsuit for Thousands in Fines

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Florida City Dismisses Lawsuit for Thousands in Fines

The city of Dunedin, Florida has decided to drop their lawsuit against a woman who owed more than $100,000 in code enforcement fines at a house she didn’t own anymore.

Kristi Allen was fined $103,559 for overgrown vegetation and a dirty swimming pool at a house she let the bank have more than eight years ago.

The city’s lawyers didn’t provide a reason for why they’re dismissing the lawsuit, which was filed late last year. It’s also not clear whether or not the city plans to collect the fines through other means.

The dismissal comes a month after USA TODAY told Allen’s story and the city’s history of imposing heavy fines for violating laws that prohibit grasses taller than 10 inches, sidings and bricks that don’t match, and dirty pools. The city has collected almost $3.6 million in fines over the past five and a half years.

Homeowners in Dunedin, including Allen, said the city had overzealous code enforcement practices and that they didn’t even know they owed any money until daily fines of $100 to $500 had accumulated.

Allen said that she wasn’t aware that she owed anything until last fall. It had been seven years since she moved out of her home and she received a letter from the city attorney telling her that she owed $92,600 in fines for overgrown vegetation and a dirty pool.

Allen purchased her home in Dunedin in 2005, but lost it in 2011 after taking a pay cut. However, she didn’t know that her foreclosure wouldn’t be finalized for another three years and that her name would remain on county property records. As the home sat vacant, the pool turned green and vegetation kept growing.

City officials sent multiple notices to Allen’s old house, but they were returned undeliverable. However, the city continued to fine Allen $100 a day.

Allen’s lawyer, Ben Hillard, said he wasn’t shocked that the city dropped the case. He said he believes the city knew that they mailed notices to Allen’s old address and that she wasn’t aware of all the fines she owed.

 

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