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South Bend builder sues Weis over copyright charge wire reports

SOUTH BEND, Ind. -- 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.

Copyright 2014 by STATS LLC and The Associated Press. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC and The Associated Press is strictly prohibited.

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