ILNews

Home day care presents first-impression

Jennifer Nelson
January 1, 2007
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The Court of Appeals ruled on a case of first impression involving whether a licensed child care facility constitutes residential or commercial use of the owner's residence.

In Jeannie Lewis-Levett v. Richard D. Day and Martha A. Day, 50A03-0705-CV-199, Lewis-Levett appealed the trial court's summary judgment ruling in favor of the Days. As owners and operators of Golfview Estates, the Days recorded covenants applicable to the lots there, which prevents buildings in the neighborhood being used for "any trade, business, manufacture or profession." Lewis-Levett began a licensed day care in her home in the neighborhood, caring for up to 12 children during the week. On her tax forms, she indicated 60 percent of her home is used for the day care.

The Days filed a complaint requesting a temporary and permanent injunction against Lewis-Levett's day care in her residence and attorney fees; Lewis-Levett filed a motion for summary judgment. The trial court granted summary judgment in favor of the Days and awarded attorney fees.

Lewis-Levett argued the trial court erred in granting summary judgment enjoining her from running the licensed day care in her home because a licensed day care is residential use of her home. She cited Stewart v. Jackson, 635 N. E. 2d 186, 193, where the Court of Appeals held that the operation of an unlicensed home day care constituted residential use and did not violate the restrictive covenants of its neighborhood.

The question of whether a licensed day care constitutes residential use is a matter of first impression for the court because Stewart is limited to unlicensed day care in homes. In Stewart, the court examined the number of children in the day care, its income, and the increase of traffic to determine whether it was residential use.

In this case, Lewis-Levett cares for 12 children, which means she could have 12 vehicles coming and going from her home throughout the day - more than normal for the neighborhood. She also uses 60 percent of her home for the business. Because the Indiana legislature has enacted extensive regulation of licensed day care homes that have more than six children, it shows them to be commercial enterprises.

The Court of Appeals affirmed the summary judgment enjoining Lewis-Levett from operating a licensed home day care. Public policy in favor of home day care is not without limits; although public policy favors home day care, such policy isn't violated by the enforcement of the restrictive covenants in this case, Judge Edward Najam wrote for the majority.

The Days cross-appealed the trial court ruling, saying it erred in not enjoining Lewis-Levett from having any type of child care in her home. The evidence showed she ran a licensed day care, so the trial court granted the relief requested in the amended complaint because the trial court did not have the case of "any" day care before it when ruling. The Court of Appeals denied the Day's cross appeal.
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  1. Well, maybe it's because they are unelected, and, they have a tendency to strike down laws by elected officials from all over the country. When you have been taught that "Democracy" is something almost sacred, then, you will have a tendency to frown on such imperious conduct. Lawyers get acculturated in law school into thinking that this is the very essence of high minded government, but to people who are more heavily than King George ever did, they may not like it. Thanks for the information.

  2. I pd for a bankruptcy years ago with Mr Stiles and just this week received a garnishment from my pay! He never filed it even though he told me he would! Don't let this guy practice law ever again!!!

  3. Excellent initiative on the part of the AG. Thankfully someone takes action against predators taking advantage of people who have already been through the wringer. Well done!

  4. Conour will never turn these funds over to his defrauded clients. He tearfully told the court, and his daughters dutifully pledged in interviews, that his first priority is to repay every dime of the money he stole from his clients. Judge Young bought it, much to the chagrin of Conour’s victims. Why would Conour need the $2,262 anyway? Taxpayers are now supporting him, paying for his housing, utilities, food, healthcare, and clothing. If Conour puts the money anywhere but in the restitution fund, he’s proved, once again, what a con artist he continues to be and that he has never had any intention of repaying his clients. Judge Young will be proven wrong... again; Conour has no remorse and the Judge is one of the many conned.

  5. Pass Legislation to require guilty defendants to pay for the costs of lab work, etc as part of court costs...

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