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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. So that none are misinformed by my posting wihtout a non de plume here, please allow me to state that I am NOT an Indiana licensed attorney, although I am an Indiana resident approved to practice law and represent clients in Indiana's fed court of Nth Dist and before the 7th circuit. I remain licensed in KS, since 1996, no discipline. This must be clarified since the IN court records will reveal that I did sit for and pass the Indiana bar last February. Yet be not confused by the fact that I was so allowed to be tested .... I am not, to be clear in the service of my duty to be absolutely candid about this, I AM NOT a member of the Indiana bar, and might never be so licensed given my unrepented from errors of thought documented in this opinion, at fn2, which likely supports Mr Smith's initial post in this thread: http://caselaw.findlaw.com/us-7th-circuit/1592921.html

  2. When I served the State of Kansas as Deputy AG over Consumer Protection & Antitrust for four years, supervising 20 special agents and assistant attorneys general (back before the IBLE denied me the right to practice law in Indiana for not having the right stuff and pretty much crushed my legal career) we had a saying around the office: Resist the lure of the ring!!! It was a take off on Tolkiem, the idea that absolute power (I signed investigative subpoenas as a judge would in many other contexts, no need to show probable cause)could corrupt absolutely. We feared that we would overreach constitutional limits if not reminded, over and over, to be mindful to not do so. Our approach in so challenging one another was Madisonian, as the following quotes from the Father of our Constitution reveal: The essence of Government is power; and power, lodged as it must be in human hands, will ever be liable to abuse. We are right to take alarm at the first experiment upon our liberties. I believe there are more instances of the abridgement of freedom of the people by gradual and silent encroachments by those in power than by violent and sudden usurpations. Liberty may be endangered by the abuse of liberty, but also by the abuse of power. All men having power ought to be mistrusted. -- James Madison, Federalist Papers and other sources: http://www.constitution.org/jm/jm_quotes.htm RESIST THE LURE OF THE RING ALL YE WITH POLITICAL OR JUDICIAL POWER!

  3. My dear Mr Smith, I respect your opinions and much enjoy your posts here. We do differ on our view of the benefits and viability of the American Experiment in Ordered Liberty. While I do agree that it could be better, and that your points in criticism are well taken, Utopia does indeed mean nowhere. I think Madison, Jefferson, Adams and company got it about as good as it gets in a fallen post-Enlightenment social order. That said, a constitution only protects the citizens if it is followed. We currently have a bevy of public officials and judicial agents who believe that their subjectivism, their personal ideology, their elitist fears and concerns and cause celebs trump the constitutions of our forefathers. This is most troubling. More to follow in the next post on that subject.

  4. Yep I am not Bryan Brown. Bryan you appear to be a bigger believer in the Constitution than I am. Were I still a big believer then I might be using my real name like you. Personally, I am no longer a fan of secularism. I favor the confessional state. In religious mattes, it seems to me that social diversity is chaos and conflict, while uniformity is order and peace.... secularism has been imposed by America on other nations now by force and that has not exactly worked out very well.... I think the American historical experiment with disestablishmentarianism is withering on the vine before our eyes..... Since I do not know if that is OK for an officially licensed lawyer to say, I keep the nom de plume.

  5. I am compelled to announce that I am not posting under any Smith monikers here. That said, the post below does have a certain ring to it that sounds familiar to me: http://www.catholicnewworld.com/cnwonline/2014/0907/cardinal.aspx

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