7th Circuit dismisses campground owner’s appeal after raising new arguments

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A Cedar Grove campground owner’s appeal regarding the judgment that the campground is subject to the Safe Drinking Water Act raised an “interesting question,” the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals noted, but the judges dismissed the appeal because the owner raised arguments for the first time on appeal.

In United States of America v. Ronald Ritz, 11-3320, Ronald Ritz, owner of Cottonwood Campground, fought the grant of summary judgment in favor of the government on whether the campground is subject to the Safe Drinking Water Act and its regulations. The Environmental Protection Agency issued an order in 1998 that it found Cottonwood operated a public water system at the campground, so it must test its water. Ritz and his brother Thomas, who sold the campground to Ronald, didn’t comply with the testing requirements. The brothers denied the water system constituted a public water system as contemplated by the SDWA because the water spigots are marked “non-potable.”

The act says a public water system is one that has at least 15 service connections or regularly serves at least 25 individuals.

After granting summary judgment to the government on the issue, the District Court learned that Thomas Ritz had not been receiving communications related to the case, so it set aside the ruling against Thomas. He later responded, and the District Court again granted summary judgment for the government. He was later dismissed from the case and Ronald Ritz was ordered to pay nearly $30,000 in civil penalties.

Ronald Ritz’s primary argument was that the campground didn’t serve at least 25 people daily for at least 60 days of the year. Now, he argues by analogy that the campground is like a single-family home that may have many faucets but is still not considered a public water system for purposes of the SDWA.

“The merits of Ritz’s new argument raise an interesting question, but we need not consider it because this line of argument was never developed below,” Judge Ann Claire Williams wrote. Ronald Ritz never brought up this argument before the District Court, nor did he bring up several other arguments, including that he never had an opportunity for notice and hearing for the alleged violations.

“Each of these arguments was raised by Ronald’s brother, Thomas, in his separate response to the government’s motion for summary judgment (and rejected by the district court), but Ronald never once sought to join that response or assert any such arguments on his own. Therefore, we must conclude that these arguments are waived for purposes of this appeal,” the court held.



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  1. I commend Joe for standing up to this tyrant attorney! You ask why? Well I’m one of David Steele victims. I was in desperate need of legal help to protect my child, David saw an opportunity, and he demanded I pay him $3000. Cash. As I received motions and orders from court he did nothing! After weeks of emails asking him to address the legal issues, he responded by saying he was “on vacation “and I should be so lucky to have “my attorney” reply. Finally after lie on top of lie I asked for a full refund, which he refused. He then sent me “bills” for things he never did, such as, his appearance in the case and later claimed he withdrew. He never filed one document / motion for my case! When I finally demanded he refund my money he then turn to threats which scared my family for our lives. It seem unreal we couldn’t believe this guy. I am now over $100,000 in debt digging out of the legal mess he caused my family. Later I was finally able to hire another law office. I met Joe and we worked diligently on my case. I soon learn Joe had a passion for helping people. As anyone who has been through a legal battle it is exhausting. Joe was always more than happy to help or address an issue. Joe was knowledgeable about all my concerns at the same time he was able to reduce the stress and anxieties of my case. He would stay late and come in early, he always went the extra mile to help in any way he could. I can only imagine what Joe and his family has been through, my prayers go out to him and all the victims.

  2. Steele did more than what is listed too. He purposely sought out to ruin me, calling potential employers and then lied about me alleging all kinds of things including kidnapping. None of his allegations were true. If you are in need of an ethical and very knowledgeable family law paralegal, perhaps someone could post their contact information. Ethics cannot be purchased, either your paralegal has them or they do not.

  3. This is ridiculous. Most JDs not practicing law don't know squat to justify calling themselves a lawyer. Maybe they should try visiting the inside of a courtroom before they go around calling themselves lawyers. This kind of promotional BS just increases the volume of people with JDs that are underqualified thereby dragging all the rest of us down likewise.

  4. I think it is safe to say that those Hoosier's with the most confidence in the Indiana judicial system are those Hoosier's who have never had the displeasure of dealing with the Hoosier court system.

  5. I have an open CHINS case I failed a urine screen I have since got clean completed IOP classes now in after care passed home inspection my x sister in law has my children I still don't even have unsupervised when I have been clean for over 4 months my x sister wants to keep the lids for good n has my case working with her I just discovered n have proof that at one of my hearing dcs case worker stated in court to the judge that a screen was dirty which caused me not to have unsupervised this was at the beginning two weeks after my initial screen I thought the weed could have still been in my system was upset because they were suppose to check levels n see if it was going down since this was only a few weeks after initial instead they said dirty I recently requested all of my screens from redwood because I take prescriptions that will show up n I was having my doctor look at levels to verify that matched what I was prescripted because dcs case worker accused me of abuseing when I got my screens I found out that screen I took that dcs case worker stated in court to judge that caused me to not get granted unsupervised was actually negative what can I do about this this is a serious issue saying a parent failed a screen in court to judge when they didn't please advise