N. Ind. builder sues Weis over copyright charge

A lawsuit alleges former Notre Dame football coach Charlie Weis,

his wife and a homebuilder violated copyright laws in constructing

a house for developmentally disabled adults for a charity started

by the couple.

Garden Homes by E.L. filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court in

South Bend on March 18 alleging that Charlie and Maura Weis and

Rans Custom Homes violated copyright laws in building a third home

at the Hannah and Friends Farm. Garden Homes, which is based in

South Bend, contends it designed and built the first two homes on

the 30-acre facility and obtained copyrights for those designs.

Garden Homes alleges the Weises intentionally violated copyright

laws by giving Rans its design plans and directing it to make

alterations to avoid the appearance of a copyright violation.

Weis, now the offensive coordinator at Florida, declined

comment, school spokesman Steve McClain said. Jeffrey Stesiak, a

lawyer for the Weises, also declined comment, saying he was

reviewing the lawsuit.

Charlie and Maura Weis told the South Bend Tribune in a story

published Tuesday that they found it “incomprehensible” that a

builder would sue another builder who is building a home for people

with special needs. They also said they found it peculiar that the

lawsuit was filed against them personally rather than their

charity.

A message seeking comment was left Tuesday by The Associated

Press for Ryan Rans of Custom Homes. He told the South Bend Tribune

the lawsuit is without merit.

Garden Homes contends it helped develop the land and built the

main lodge for the farm. Plans called for the site to have 16 homes

for developmentally disabled adults. Garden Homes designed and

built the first two homes, the lawsuit says. Garden Homes contends

its plans were used for the new construction, for the electrical

and other contract bids and for the overall exterior and interior

designs for the third house.

Weis was fired in 2009 after five seasons as Notre Dame coach,

posting a 35-27 record. He was the offensive coordinator for the

Kansas City Chiefs last season before taking the job at

Florida.

The Weis family started Hannah and Friends to try to improve the

quality of life for those with special needs. Their 15-year-old

daughter Hannah has global development delay, a form of mental

retardation.