When a member's home or condo is burglarized, they sometimes sue the association. To prevail under a negligence theory, plaintiffs must show the association owed a legal duty of care, it breached that duty, and the breach was a proximate or legal cause of the injury.
In an unpublished case, a husband and wife sued their association for negligence after their home was burglarized and thieves made off with jewelry valued at $1 million. They alleged the association, which manages and maintains the common areas, owed a duty to keep the premises reasonably safe, and breached that duty by failing to hire a security guard, have monitored gates, and maintain street lights.
The court ruled in favor of the association when plaintiffs offered no factual basis for their conclusion that the association's failure to repair street lights, motorize and secure the gates at the access points of the development, hire security guards, or install surveillance cameras caused and/or contributed to the burglaries.
Plaintiffs admitted they could not prove the identity of the burglars, and thus could not show the burglars were not authorized to enter the development, either as homeowners, employees of homeowners, or delivery personnel. Similarly, they could not show when the burglary took place, and thus they could show that it did not occur during daylight hours and thus could not show that but for the association's failure to repair the street lights, the burglaries would not have occurred. (Girardi v. San Rafael HOA.)
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