Man Fights Bulk Waste Fine After Debris Mix-Up

For Wayne Samuels, the Miami Gardens house he shares with his father is a special place, full of memories of his childhood and late mother.

"I like to be able to keep the place as my mom left it," he said. "It's kind of hard doing that now when you only have the one source of income and every little bit counts."

For that reason, Wayne said he decided to call NBC 6 Responds, after years of fighting a fine from Miami-Dade county he said he should have never gotten.

"I don't mind paying what's due," he said. "But don't try and squeeze me for every little penny I have."

In September 2015, Wayne said an FPL subcontractor went out to the property to do some routine tree trimming and left behind some debris.

"They just dumped it out here and just left it and said they would be back to get it," he said, adding the contractor never returned.

Soon after, Wayne said he received a $200 citation from Miami-Dade County for unauthorized bulky or industrial waste on the right-of-way. Wayne told NBC 6 he called the county right away to explain what had happened.

"It's not our fault," he said he was told. "You just need to pay this or you need to take that up with FPL but no matter what you have to pay this fine or someone has to pay this fine."

Over time, the fine grew to $720.

"It made me really upset," Wayne said. "That's why it wasn't paid."

A spokesperson for FPL confirmed that in October 2015 they were "…notified that a customer had been cited by Miami-Dade County for tree debris left by an FPL contractor performing tree maintenance." FPL told NBC 6 they requested documentation to validate the claim, but "…the customer did not follow up with FPL for two years."

Wayne said he tried to file a claim but couldn't and felt like he couldn't get in touch with someone who could help him.

"It just seems as if someone keeps passing the buck," he said.

NBC 6 Responds sent FPL a copy of the citation and, a few days later, the FPL contractor paid the full amount, allowing Wayne to have one less thing to worry about.

"Something else off my back," he said.

A spokesperson for Miami-Dade County told NBC 6 "…residents are responsible for maintaining the rights-of-way in front of their property" and that "In a situation similar to this one, what a resident can do is take down as much identifying information as they can about the subcontractor…" so they can report the incident to 311 "…after the responsible party has left the area and left any debris behind."

If you receive a notice that FPL will be doing tree trimming in your area, you should keep that notice. FPL said the letter usually has a number you can call to resolve any issues that may come up during the tree maintenance process.