Jul 20, 2022 - News

Not cutting grass cost a Dunedin man his home

Jim Ficken in front of his Dunedin home
Jim Ficken in front of his Dunedin home. Photo courtesy of the Institute for Justice

A Dunedin man just lost his four-year battle against a nearly $30,000 fine that will cost him his home.

  • His offense? Not cutting his grass.

Driving the news: The 11th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled Thursday against James Ficken, who argued that the city's penalty violates the Eighth Amendment's ban on imposing excessive fines.

How it happened: Ficken said he forgot to mow his lawn in March 2015 because he was traveling back and forth to South Carolina to care for his elderly mother, according to court documents. In that time, his grass grew longer than the 10-inch limit in Dunedin's municipal code.

  • He wasn't fined for the violation, but warned that as a repeat offender, the city could fine him $500 a day plus daily interest if it happened again.
  • Ficken was in South Carolina again for several weeks after his mother died in 2018, and said he hired a friend to cut his lawn β€” but the friend died while he was gone and his grass grew too tall again.

Go deeper: Patch's story on Ficken's battle is worthy of your time.

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