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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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