ILNews

Homeowners must follow health codes

Jennifer Nelson
January 1, 2007
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Owners of houses or mobile homes they construct themselves still must follow Indiana health codes, the Indiana Court of Appeals ruled today. The appellate court overturned a trial court's ruling that a section of Indiana code exempted certain homeowners from obtaining a permit for septic systems.

At issue in Washington County Health Department and Mike Haddon v. Jeff and Robin White, No. 88A04-0703-CV-126, is whether the Whites' mobile home, which had a discharge pipe running from the bottom of it to the ground, was exempt from health-code and permit requirements.

Mike Haddon, a Washington County health officer, noticed two mobile homes on a property owned by the Whites in an unincorporated portion of Washington County. He saw a waste discharge pipe coming out of the bottom of one of the homes and knew the Whites had not gotten a permit for a septic system.

Haddon sent a letter to the Whites asking to inspect their property, pursuant to Indiana Code, to check for conditions that may foster or transmit diseases. The Whites refused inspection and filed a petition for injunctive relief that WCHD not be allowed to search their property without a valid search warrant. They also argued under Indiana Code 36-7-8-3(d), they weren't required to have any kind of permit for their mobile homes.

Haddon replied with a Notice and Order to Comply letter to the Whites, citing they had committed three health-code violations. WCHD also filed a counterclaim for injunctive relief, which the trial court denied. The court ruled the Whites were exempt to any permits under I.C. 36-7-8-3(d) part of Indiana building codes, which states, "an ordinance adopted under this section does not apply to private homes that are built by individuals and used for their own occupancy."

Subsection (d) allows an individual to be exempt from building codes for unincorporated areas of a county, as long as the owner built the home him or herself for his or her own use. The Whites contend that even though they did not construct the mobile home themselves, additional construction was required, plumbing and electricity must be hooked up, and a concrete foundation poured. However, wrote Senior Judge George Hoffman, the Whites never produced any evidence they did this work themselves.

Because the Whites didn't build the mobile homes placed on their property, subsection (d) does not apply to them and they are required to comply with health-code regulations, specifically Indiana Code 410 IAC 6-8.1-33, which required them to obtain a permit for a sewage disposal system prior to putting the mobile homes on their property.

Judge Hoffman wrote that subsection (d) is not a global exception that exempts individuals from building codes and health codes. The trial court erred in concluding anyone who satisfies subsection (d) is exempt from the health codes and it erred in denying WCHD's petition for injunctive relief. The case is remanded to the trial court.
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  1. The practitioners and judges who hail E-filing as the Saviour of the West need to contain their respective excitements. E-filing is federal court requires the practitioner to cram his motion practice into pigeonholes created by IT people. Compound motions or those seeking alternative relief are effectively barred, unless the practitioner wants to receive a tart note from some functionary admonishing about the "problem". E-filing is just another method by which courts and judges transfer their burden to practitioners, who are the really the only powerless components of the system. Of COURSE it is easier for the court to require all of its imput to conform to certain formats, but this imposition does NOT improve the quality of the practice of law and does NOT improve the ability of the practitioner to advocate for his client or to fashion pleadings that exactly conform to his client's best interests. And we should be very wary of the disingenuous pablum about the costs. The courts will find a way to stick it to the practitioner. Lake County is a VERY good example of this rapaciousness. Any one who does not believe this is invited to review the various special fees that system imposes upon practitioners- as practitioners- and upon each case ON TOP of the court costs normal in every case manually filed. Jurisprudence according to Aldous Huxley.

  2. Any attorneys who practice in federal court should be able to say the same as I can ... efiling is great. I have been doing it in fed court since it started way back. Pacer has its drawbacks, but the ability to hit an e-docket and pull up anything and everything onscreen is a huge plus for a litigator, eps the sole practitioner, who lacks a filing clerk and the paralegal support of large firms. Were I an Indiana attorney I would welcome this great step forward.

  3. Can we get full disclosure on lobbyist's payments to legislatures such as Mr Buck? AS long as there are idiots that are disrespectful of neighbors and intent on shooting fireworks every night, some kind of regulations are needed.

  4. I am the mother of the child in this case. My silence on the matter was due to the fact that I filed, both in Illinois and Indiana, child support cases. I even filed supporting documentation with the Indiana family law court. Not sure whether this information was provided to the court of appeals or not. Wish the case was done before moving to Indiana, because no matter what, there is NO WAY the state of Illinois would have allowed an appeal on a child support case!

  5. "No one is safe when the Legislature is in session."

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