Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Implications of Arizona Courts and Gated Communities

Posted By CotoBlogzz 08-31-2010

The most expensive line item in most gated communities' budget is the "security budget", followed by a number of disclaimers stating something to the effect that "the community is not responsible for security" - In Coto de Caza the "security budget for not security purposes," for example, is now close to $2 million/year when you include the ancillary items such s Keystone's involvement.

And let  the legal games begin.  

In recent years, courts have examined an association’s liability for criminal acts of third parties committed on association property. Donald Tilley, a security guard employed by BonaFide Security Services, Inc., sued the CZ Master Association, because of injuries he suffered from an assault while responding to a complaint about a youth party on CZ's premises, for example.

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 CountySheriff's deputies were called. The party was broken up, and most of the guests dispersed. Unfortunately, they did not all stay dispersed

The CZ at that time 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

Since Varo/Mezger came to the scene, the  CZ Master Association has buried the previously winning argument by piercing the agency veil and hiring an executive director "because Keystone is not competent enough," for starters.

The question of the Association’s duty with regard to criminal activity has yet to be answered completely by Case la.  However, recently, the trailing-blazing state of Arizona, addressed it in the case of Martinez v. Woodmar IV Condominiums Homeowners Association, Inc 

On review of this case, the Arizona Supreme Court held that an association has the same duties as a landlord. The court also found that criminal intrusion (criminal acts) constitutes a dangerous condition.

What are the implications of the Court's decision in this case for a community association, such as the CZ Master?

It means that an association must take reasonable measures to ensure the safety of its common areas.  What are the implications of CZ's close to $2 million/year  "security budget-not for security purposes?" - Stay tuned.

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