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. I grew up on a farm and live in the county and it's interesting that the big industrial farmers like Jeff Shoaf don't live next to their industrial operations...

  2. 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

  3. 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!

  4. 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.

  5. 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.

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