Default judgment upheld against old order Amish member for ignoring building code

Howard Friedman, Religion Clause

In Eau Claire County v. Borntreger, (WI App., Jan. 29, 2013), a Wisconsin appeals court upheld a trial court’s refusal to reopen a default judgment that had been entered against a member of the Old Order Amish for failing to comply with the county building code in constructing a one-family residence. The appeals court concluded that defendant had not established a meritorious religious defense to the provisions of the code that the county sought to enforce, even though defendant might have a religious defense to other provisions of the code. Defendant’s religious objections to installing smoke detectors does not excuse non-compliance with the requirement that the building be structurally sound. WTAQ reports on the decision.