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Messy yard costs woman, 83, $1.8 million

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JUPITER, Fla., Dec 6, 2005 (UPI via COMTEX) -- An 83-year-old Florida woman has lost almost $1 million in assets in a legal fight to keep her home's yard "messy" with native plants.

Hattie Siegel has been battling the Village of Tequesta for years. For five years, the village fined Siegel $1,000 a day for code violations until she owed nearly $1.8 million.

She lost a constitutional challenge, declared bankruptcy, and the village sold her debt at a discount to a limited liability company for $300,000.

The trustee in her bankruptcy case already has sold a home she owned in Charleston, S.C., and on Monday, Judge Steven Friedman ruled a half-acre lot Siegel owned in Jupiter, Fla., also would have to be sold for $430,000, the South Florida Sun-Sentinel reported Tuesday.

John Metzger, Siegel's attorney, who is working on her case for free, said he wants to appeal the fines against Siegel as excessive.

"At this moment, we have been successful at convincing the court that her home in Tequesta is her constitutionally protected homestead," he said. "So she is able to keep her home."


Copyright 2005 by United Press International

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