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Home > Topics > Community Awareness

Court: Miami’s non-resident $100 ambulance fee legal

The Third District Court of Appeal overturned a trial judge’s ruling last year that the fee was an unconstitutional tax

By David Smiley
The Miami Herald

MIAMI, Fla. — The city of Miami can once again levy a $100 emergency medical transport fee on people who live outside the city, an appellate court ruled Wednesday.

The Third District Court of Appeal overturned a trial judge’s ruling last year that the fee was an unconstitutional tax. The lawsuit was brought by Cheryl Haigley, of St. Petersburg, who was taken to the hospital by Miami Fire Rescue after tripping and falling on a city sidewalk outside Coconut Grove's Mayfair shops in 2010.

Haigley, who paid $445 for the ride, including the $100 surcharge, argued that the charge was an unauthorized tax for which the person charged received nothing in return. Last year Miami-Dade Circuit Judge Marc Schumacher agreed and ordered the city to stop charging the fee and “refund the moneys collected.”

The city had been charging non-residents the fee since 1992, according to the court, and transferring the money to its general fund, which pays for things like police, firefighters and parks. Haigley had sought the return of those fees charged in the four years before she filed her suit.

It’s unclear how much the city would have owed in refunds, but that may be irrelevant if Wednesday’s ruling sticks. Miami City Attorney Victoria Méndez said it's not yet clear if the city will begin charging the $100 fee again.

“Moving forward our office would discuss this matter with Manager Daniel J. Alfonso and his Administration to determine future collection efforts,” Mendez wrote.

Haigley’s attorney, William Wolk, said it’s likely his client will appeal a portion of Wednesday’s ruling to the Florida Supreme Court.

“We think we’re in the right here,” he said. “The city of Miami invites international visitors to come here and then taxes them with a surcharge when they get hurt. We think that’s wrong.”


McClatchy-Tribune News Service
©2014 The Miami Herald

The comments below are member-generated and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of or its staff. If you cannot see comments, try disabling privacy and ad blocking plugins in your browser. All comments must comply with our Member Commenting Policy.
Jacque Pain Jacque Pain Friday, July 25, 2014 3:07:03 PM Don't get hurt!! If your clumsy and you fall its not anyone else fault but your
Donovan Warren Donovan Warren Friday, July 25, 2014 4:45:51 PM Since Bob doesn't live there, Bob doesn't pay the taxes that keep the services running. Bob does, however, get to take advantage of the service when he visits. It seems absolutely appropriate to add a non-resident fee to the service to maintain the availability of the service for the actual residents who do pay taxes.
Kg Lockwood Kg Lockwood Saturday, July 26, 2014 10:04:14 AM How about you are not paying taxes in that city and you are utilizing the services that are funded by the taxpaying people of the city...

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