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COA: Manufactured home subject to law

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The Indiana Court of Appeals determined that manufactured mobile homes are subject to Indiana's common law warranty of habitability, so it reversed the grant of summary judgment in favor of a manufacturer in a homeowner's property damage and personal injury complaint.

In Sandra Dinsmore, et al. v. Fleetwood Homes of Tennessee, Inc., No. 49A02-0807-CV-615, Sandra filed a complaint against Fleetwood Homes that the home she purchased in 1999 wasn't a safe place to live because it had latent defects that caused toxic mold throughout the home, leaving it uninhabitable. After Dinsmore moved into the home, the bathroom vent leaked water and caused mold to grow. The company who sold her the home attempted to repair the problem twice. Less than a year later, Sandra and her family moved out and Sandra's son, fiancee, and baby moved into the mobile home and paid rent. There were no more complaints about the home until July 2002 when she called Fleetwood to report mold growing throughout the home; Brian and his family moved out.

The trial court granted summary judgment in favor of Fleetwood and denied Dinsmore and her family's motion to amend by interlineation Sandra's response to Fleetwood's motion for summary judgment.

The Court of Appeals granted Fleetwood's motion to strike evidentiary assertions in the appellants' brief that depend on evidence that wasn't specifically designated to the trial court.

The only issue on appeal is the application of the common law implied warranty of habitability, which Fleetwood suggested isn't applicable to manufactured mobile homes. And even if it were applicable, Fleetwood's warranty is only applicable during the time frame the initial homebuyer occupies the unit as a resident, the company argued.

Citing Barnes v. MacBrown & Co., Inc., 264 Ind. 277, 342 N.E.2d 619 (Ind. 1976), the Court of Appeals noted the use by the Indiana Supreme Court of the term "manufacturer" supports the reasonable inference there is no distinction between a site-built home and a manufactured home, wrote Judge Carr Darden.

Fleetwood could have disclaimed the implied warranty of habitability to someone who lives in the home yet didn't initially purchase it; however, it had to follow the steps in Indiana Code Section 32-27-2-9. Fleetwood didn't argue or show it properly disclaimed "all implied warranties" as provided by the statute.

"The undisputed facts do not establish that Fleetwood is entitled to judgment as a matter of law on the plaintiffs' claims under Indiana's common law warranty of habitability, and Fleetwood's express warranties do not supersede Indiana's implied warranty of habitability because Fleetwood did not follow the builder's statutory disclaimer procedure," wrote Judge Darden.

In addition, numerous issues of material fact remain, so the trial court erred in granting Fleetwood summary judgment.

The Court of Appeals also found the issue of the intervening plaintiffs' response to the summary judgment is moot because summary judgment to Fleetwood is precluded.

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  1. On a related note, I offered the ICLU my cases against the BLE repeatedly, and sought their amici aid repeatedly as well. Crickets. Usually not even a response. I am guessing they do not do allegations of anti-Christian bias? No matter how glaring? I have posted on other links the amicus brief that did get filed (search this ezine, e.g., Kansas attorney), read the Thomas More Society brief to note what the ACLU ran from like vampires from garlic. An Examiner pledged to advance diversity and inclusion came right out on the record and demanded that I choose Man's law or God's law. I wonder, had I been asked to swear off Allah ... what result then, ICLU? Had I been found of bad character and fitness for advocating sexual deviance, what result then ICLU? Had I been lifetime banned for posting left of center statements denigrating the US Constitution, what result ICLU? Hey, we all know don't we? Rather Biased.

  2. It was mentioned in the article that there have been numerous CLE events to train attorneys on e-filing. I would like someone to provide a list of those events, because I have not seen any such events in east central Indiana, and since Hamilton County is one of the counties where e-filing is mandatory, one would expect some instruction in this area. Come on, people, give some instruction, not just applause!

  3. This law is troubling in two respects: First, why wasn't the law reviewed "with the intention of getting all the facts surrounding the legislation and its actual impact on the marketplace" BEFORE it was passed and signed? Seems a bit backwards to me (even acknowledging that this is the Indiana state legislature we're talking about. Second, what is it with the laws in this state that seem to create artificial monopolies in various industries? Besides this one, the other law that comes to mind is the legislation that governed the granting of licenses to firms that wanted to set up craft distilleries. The licensing was limited to only those entities that were already in the craft beer brewing business. Republicans in this state talk a big game when it comes to being "business friendly". They're friendly alright . . . to certain businesses.

  4. Gretchen, Asia, Roberto, Tonia, Shannon, Cheri, Nicholas, Sondra, Carey, Laura ... my heart breaks for you, reaching out in a forum in which you are ignored by a professional suffering through both compassion fatigue and the love of filthy lucre. Most if not all of you seek a warm blooded Hoosier attorney unafraid to take on the government and plead that government officials have acted unconstitutionally to try to save a family and/or rescue children in need and/or press individual rights against the Leviathan state. I know an attorney from Kansas who has taken such cases across the country, arguing before half of the federal courts of appeal and presenting cases to the US S.Ct. numerous times seeking cert. Unfortunately, due to his zeal for the constitutional rights of peasants and willingness to confront powerful government bureaucrats seemingly violating the same ... he was denied character and fitness certification to join the Indiana bar, even after he was cleared to sit for, and passed, both the bar exam and ethics exam. And was even admitted to the Indiana federal bar! NOW KNOW THIS .... you will face headwinds and difficulties in locating a zealously motivated Hoosier attorney to face off against powerful government agents who violate the constitution, for those who do so tend to end up as marginalized as Paul Odgen, who was driven from the profession. So beware, many are mere expensive lapdogs, the kind of breed who will gladly take a large retainer, but then fail to press against the status quo and powers that be when told to heel to. It is a common belief among some in Indiana that those attorneys who truly fight the power and rigorously confront corruption often end up, actually or metaphorically, in real life or at least as to their careers, as dead as the late, great Gary Welch. All of that said, I wish you the very best in finding a Hoosier attorney with a fighting spirit to press your rights as far as you can, for you do have rights against government actors, no matter what said actors may tell you otherwise. Attorneys outside the elitist camp are often better fighters that those owing the powers that be for their salaries, corner offices and end of year bonuses. So do not be afraid to retain a green horn or unconnected lawyer, many of them are fine men and woman who are yet untainted by the "unique" Hoosier system.

  5. I am not the John below. He is a journalist and talk show host who knows me through my years working in Kansas government. I did no ask John to post the note below ...

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