Mass. mobile home park required to upgrade septic system

Bryan Cohen Aug. 15, 2011, 12:14pm


BOSTON (Legal Newsline) - Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley announced on Friday that the owner of the Pocasset Mobile Home Park has been found liable for allegedly failing to upgrade the property's septic system.

The Pocasset Mobile Home Park, located in Bourne, Mass., has experienced repeated and significant sewage overflows from its septic system, Coakley says. Coakley alleges that the incidents are a result of the owner's violation of state environmental laws and court orders requiring him to upgrade the park's septic system.

The court order, granted by Justice Nancy Holtz, finds Charles W. Austin personally liable for violating the state's environmental laws by allegedly failing to upgrade the badly failing septic system despite having been issued a permit by MassDEP in May 2007 requiring the upgrade.

The court order holds the Charles W. Austin Trust and Pocasset Mobile Home Park LLC liable for the failure. Austin is the sole trustee of the trust, which holds the title to the property, and he is the sole manager of the property's operator, Pocasset Mobile Home Park LLC.

"As the owner of the property, it was Mr. Austin's responsibility to comply with the law and by refusing to do so, he created a significant risk to the health and safety of the families and individuals living there," Coakley said. "This court order requires Mr. Austin to upgrade the parks septic system and to comply with the law to protect the health and safety of the park's residents."

The court order was issued in response to a November request by Coakley's office that the court hold Austin and the two other entities liable for allegedly failing to comply with state consumer and environmental protection laws by continuing to operate the Pocasset Mobile Home Park without a septic system upgrade. The court declined to issue a liability determination on the other claims in the lawsuit at this time so that, in the interest of public health, the upgrade of the septic system can be more quickly addressed.

The Pocasset Mobile Home Park has been operated and managed by a court-appointed receiver since February. Coakley's office sought the appointment of that receiver because Austin allegedly refused to pump and maintain the septic system in violation of several court orders, putting the health of residents at risk.

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