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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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  1. Frankly, it is tragic that you are even considering going to an expensive, unaccredited "law school." It is extremely difficult to get a job with a degree from a real school. If you are going to make the investment of time, money, and tears into law school, it should not be to a place that won't actually enable you to practice law when you graduate.

  2. As a lawyer who grew up in Fort Wayne (but went to a real law school), it is not that hard to find a mentor in the legal community without your school's assistance. One does not need to pay tens of thousands of dollars to go to an unaccredited legal diploma mill to get a mentor. Having a mentor means precisely nothing if you cannot get a job upon graduation, and considering that the legal job market is utterly terrible, these students from Indiana Tech are going to be adrift after graduation.

  3. 700,000 to 800,000 Americans are arrested for marijuana possession each year in the US. Do we need a new justice center if we decriminalize marijuana by having the City Council enact a $100 fine for marijuana possession and have the money go towards road repair?

  4. I am sorry to hear this.

  5. I tried a case in Judge Barker's court many years ago and I recall it vividly as a highlight of my career. I don't get in federal court very often but found myself back there again last Summer. We had both aged a bit but I must say she was just as I had remembered her. Authoritative, organized and yes, human ...with a good sense of humor. I also appreciated that even though we were dealing with difficult criminal cases, she treated my clients with dignity and understanding. My clients certainly respected her. Thanks for this nice article. Congratulations to Judge Barker for reaching another milestone in a remarkable career.

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