MIAMI (CBSMiami) – A federal judge has slammed Miami-Dade County for knocking down the home of an active United States soldier.
The county sent a number of violation notices.
The US Army Staff Sergeant said he was doing what he could while fighting overseas, but the county demolished his home anyway.
All that is left is an empty field with a tattered American flag and a sign that says: “This is how the U.S. Government thanks the service of an active army soldier.”
CBS4 spoke with Sergeant First Class Jesus Jimenez who’s now stationed in Texas about what happened to his home.
“That happened while I was in active duty in Iraq,” said Jimenez.
He was in Iraq to teach soldiers how to handle explosive devices.
Jimenez and his wife, Laure, received notices for building code violations for a dangerous porch, bad roof and faulty electrical wiring in the home.
“When this all started, the request was impossible. You need to bring your house to current code even though it was built in 1947 and you have 30-days,” said Jimenez.
The Jimenez’s have filed a lawsuit against Miami-Dade County and the individual building Inspectors at the time. They are suing for $395,000 for the cost of the house, attorney’s fees and then there would also be punitive damages.
The U.S. District Judge in the case, Judge Robert Scola, Jr., submitted a valid request ‘stay of proceedings’.
There is a law that says an active service member should be given another 90-days to deal with matters like these.
The judge writes the Service Members Civil Relief Act tries to avoid situations where a service member is disadvantaged for his or her service to this country.
Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos A. Gimenez issued this statement: “This unfortunate situation began prior to my time as mayor. My administration will continue to comply with all federal laws that safeguard our veterans, especially when they are on active duty.”
Sergeant Jimenez says he is willing to sell the empty property and two other nearby properties that have code violations if he and the county can reach an agreement.
“I try to make sense of it, cause it didn’t have to go this far,” Jimenez said.
The U.S. judge in the case says the case is set to go to trial in September.
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