Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Coto de Caza Lawsuits Lessons Learned

CZ Lawsuits Lessons Learned

March 25, 2007

Given the two consecutive yearly dues increases and the $2,000,000.00 "security" CZ Master Association budget, we decided to review the recent lawsuit against ( Tilley v. CZ Master Assn. (2005)132 Cal.App.4th 194a , -- Cal.Rptr.3d) the association for lessons learned:

Donald Tilley, a security guard employed by BonaFide Security Services, Inc., sued CZ Master Association, because of injuries he suffered from an assault while responding to a complaint about a youth party on CZ's premises.

The trial court granted summary judgment in CZ's favor, concluding that: (1) CZ had no liability for the injuries suffered by the employee of an independent contractor, (2) CZ owed Tilley no duty to restrict access to the community's premises; and (3) Tilley had assumed the risk of the injuries he suffered. We conclude the judgment must be affirmed.

The circumstances surrounding Tilley's assault are undisputed. Ashley S., a 17-year-old resident of Coto, had a party. Substantially more guests attended her party than had been directly invited. The party got out of hand, and both Coto's security officers and the Orange County Sheriff's deputies were called. The party was broken up, and most of the guests dispersed. Unfortunately, they did not all stay dispersed.

One of the guests who returned was Robbie Carreno. He had earlier been assaulted by some other party-goers, and he returned to the S. residence with his brother, Nathan, intending to locate his assailants and perhaps retaliate. fn. 2 Robbie and Nathan located one of the perpetrator' s of Robbie's assault, and attacked him.

Tilley also alleges that by the time of his injury in August of 1998, Coto already had a long-standing problem with frequent and uncontrolled youth parties, many of which erupted into violence. He specifically alleges that the S. family, which hosted the party at which he was injured, had previously held summer parties in 1996 and 1997, both of which had spiraled out of control, including numerous uninvited guests, excessive drinking, and violence. There is evidence that Ashley's father, Richard S., was arrested at the 1996 party for allowing minors to consume alcohol at his residence.

CZ claimed the following as undisputed facts:
(1) "Plaintiff Donald Tilley was designated as BonaFide Security's Special Officer for Coto and assigned a Captain's rank.
(2) "CZ relied on BonaFide and its officers to use their judgment and discretion in carrying out security-related procedures.
(3) "BonaFide Security set the patrol routes and times, created security procedures, approved Security post orders and directives, trained and assigned officers, instructed its officers how to respond to parties and otherwise controlled the day-to-day operations of security for CZ within Coto. Individual officers used their discretion in determining whether to contact law enforcement or residents and visitors in responding to disturbances. "
(4) "CZ did not have rules or regulations addressing parties or gatherings at the homeowners' homes. The CC&R's for CZ did not address parties at

What might the argument be, now that the CZ master association is not only writing and approving Post Orders, but also providing training and otherwise directing how to discharge private security duties?

The reason CZ prevailed in this case is that prior CZ Board’s were smart enough never to pierce the agency veil necessary to shield CZ from employment practice lawsuits. Varo & Mezger in “selecting, hiring and managing” the Executive Director and having that person report to them have pierced that veil. Who knows, given their track record there may be other situations where they have stuck their big noses where they don’t belong. CotoCAN is another prime example. If CotoCAN gets sued, you can bet your two recent dues increases that CZ will be sued because Varo & Mezger have not maintained an arms distant relationship. What a bunch of dopes. Joe Morabito - former member, CZ Master Association board of directors.


Select Blogzz & click icon

BlogSpot FeedBurner CotoBlogzz BraveNet Y!360

Archived Issues

General Information

HOA Resources

Emergency numbers

Public Safety Resources

Crime Watch

Sex Offenders in the Area

Real Time Traffic Report

LA Times Orange County


- What is RSS?

Area Links


No comments: