Lawsuit Against HOA Over Shooting Illustrates Deep-Pockets Blame Game

Under Oregon's Measure 114, 'Common Sense Gun Safety' Means Shutting Down Gun Sales
Disarming their countrymen and helping themselves to the property of others are the goals here, and exploiting tragedies is a means to an end.

Cleopatra Nagbe, the mother of Ralph Yarl, a teenager shot after he knocked on the wrong door while trying to pick up his brother, has filed a lawsuit naming the shooter, 85-year-old Andrew Lester, and the homeowner’s association he belonged to, Kansas City CBS affiliate KCTV 5 reported Monday.

It looks like a bad shooting all the way around. Yarl, reported to be “an excellent student and talented musician [who] maintains a stellar GPA while taking mostly college level courses,” appears to have made an honest mistake by going to a house on NE 115 Street instead of 115 NE Terrace. And by his own words in his statement to police, Lester’s paranoid, admittedly race-influenced overreaction appears to merit the felony charges against him and then some.

But the Highland Acres Homes Association? What did – or didn’t – they do?

“Including the homeowner’s association (HOA) in this lawsuit underscores the importance of collective responsibility in safeguarding our communities,” Nagbe says of the complaint filed by (Democrat) attorney Lee Meritt. “Their knowledge of a potentially dangerous individual in the neighborhood without taking adequate precautions is unacceptable. This case is not just about seeking justice for Ralph but about advocating for systemic changes that prioritize the safety and well-being of all children.”

The questions “What knowledge?” and “What precautions?” come to mind. And “What systemic changes”?

The word “collective” gives us a clue as to mindset.

It presupposes such associations have the in-depth personal knowledge of each of their residents, the professional qualifications to assess their behavior, and the legal authority to do anything about conditions that don’t rise to a level of law enforcement or mental health agency intervention.

Per “Everything You Need to Know About Unenforceable HOA Rules and Regulations”:

“The general rule appears to be that, while HOAs have authority to enforce validly enacted restrictions on firearms or other weapons in open areas, courts will not enforce blanket restrictions that completely prohibit gun ownership by residents.”

Except that opinion regarding common areas was written in 2021, before the Supreme Court’s Bruen decision. It’s fair to surmise such restrictions on open areas are not consistent with text, history, and tradition as understood at the time the Constitution was written, debated, and ratified.

Per the complaint against Highland Acres Homes Association, it “committed one or more of the following careless and/or negligent acts and/or omissions thereby breaching its duties in one or more of the following respects”:

  1. Carelessly and negligently failed to promulgate regulations sufficient to prevent its residents from firing a loaded weapon at a minor;
  2. Carelessly and negligently failed to inform its residents of its expectations involving the use of firearms on Association grounds, including homes within the boundaries of the Association;
  3. Carelessly and negligently created and allowed the existence of an atmosphere where Defendant, Andrew Lester, could shoot Plaintiff, P.R.Y., after ringing Defendant, Andrew Lester’s doorbell;
  4. Carelessly and negligently failed to inform and/or educate Defendant, Andrew Lester, about the dangers of discharging a loaded weapon within the grounds of the Association.
  5. Carelessly and negligently failed to render aid to Plaintiff, P.R.Y., after he was shot;
  6. Was otherwise careless and negligent.

In other words, the plaintiffs know they have nothing of merit, so they’re throwing everything against the wall to see if anything sticks. The goal here is to ban guns and dig into deep pockets, the HOA’s and its insurance carrier, and hoping that the expense of prolonged litigation will coerce the defendant into surrendering to extortion with a settlement. And that, in turn, will be used by gun banners everywhere to pull the same thing on other associations, wherever they think they can get away with it.

Sympathy for the victim and his family is appropriate. They didn’t deserve this. But by being part of this action, and by placing blame and demands on anyone but the admitted shooter, they have placed themselves on the side of those whose motives for citizen disarmament are anything but just.

If justice is to be done, the judge will throw out the complaint against the HOA and invoke applicable Missouri law:

“The court must require any party who initiates a frivolous claim, asserts a frivolous defense, files a frivolous motion, or cause proceedings to be had needlessly to pay the opposing party’s costs and reasonable expenses, including reasonable attorney’s fees and compensation.”

Plaintiffs and their self-promoting leftist lawyer have no right to manipulate sympathies and attack the innocent. But with gun grabbers, when is it ever different?

About David Codrea:

David Codrea is the winner of multiple journalist awards for investigating/defending the RKBA and a long-time gun owner rights advocate who defiantly challenges the folly of citizen disarmament. He blogs at “The War on Guns: Notes from the Resistance,” is a regularly featured contributor to Firearms News, and posts on Twitter: @dcodrea and Facebook.

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