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  1. #1
    markja is offline Junior Member
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    Suing HOA for illegal towing

    Colorado

    Hello. I am going to small claims court against my HOA for illegally towing my vehicle. The vehicles were authorized to be parked in the parking lot, both displayed valid parking stickers, both are completely operable.

    The initial reason the HOA gave, along with the documents I received from the tow company stated the vehicle was towed because no commercial vehicles are allowed on the property. I've had a problem with this HOA since I moved in. They don't like my work van being parked in the parking lot but the bylaws state that "no vehicle under 3/4th tons shall be considered a commercial vehicle". Also, State and Federal law states that two elements must be met to classify a vehicle as commercial. 1 - it must be used for commerce and 2 - it must be over 3/4th tons. My vehicle is a half ton and not classified a commercial vehicle.

    Once I brought this to their attention they stated the vehicle is inoperable and parked in the same spot. The bylaws state that a vehicle is considered inoperable when it has "not moved by it's own propulsion system for more than 14 days". My vehicle is in perfect condition, and I even took a video of me driving around with the sticker they placed on my window.

    They stickered my vehicle multiple times since I've lived here. First time, they couldn't figure out why. THey said it didn't display a valid parking sticker. When I explained it did, they said that's impossible because they hadn't issued me one yet. I explained that I have the letter in which they sent it with post marked a month ago. Then they changed their story to say that it was parked in a handicap spot, then it was double parked and the story kept changing. I demanded they send someone to remove the sticker but they told me to "take them to court" for the damages.

    They again stickered my vehicle for no reason. I took the video and send it to them. They told me simply "driving the vehicle" isn't enough and that it had to be parked in the street and "not allowed on the property". I asked them to legally prove their position and they refused.

    A month later, without notice, sticker or anything, the vehicle was towed. The bylaws state that in the event a vehicle is deemed inoperable, they are to HAND DELIVER a notice to the owner, describing the vehicle to be towed and IF they cannot "reasonably ascertain" the identity of the owner, then they can sticker the vehicle. However, my vehicle is displaying valid parking passes which are uniquely numbered, so there is no reason to believe they could not "reasonably ascertain" the identity of the owner, particularly since they stickered the vehicle on multiple occasions unjustly.

    I sent them a cease and desist letter about 90 days prior to the towing, barring them from "marring my vehicle" in any way, which is the legal definition of vandalism. They just ignored it.

    Since I filed the lawsuit they have let me live in peace, which is all I really wanted besides recovery of the expenses to tow the vehicle. They decided to hire an attorney to represent them in SMALL CLAIMS court and they are threatening to countersue for legal fees if I don't "walk away". I would add intimidation to the list, at least in my book. The attorney also encouraged me to "move", so they are trying to bully me out of the complex. I have a great relationship with everyone around me so there is no reason for me to leave me home because they refuse to follow their own bylaws.

    They have refused to settle this matter in almost a year so now we're going to court in the next few weeks. I am sueing them for the max amount the law will allow for recovery of my damages plus punitive damages for harassment and discrimination. I am the only owner who has a vehicle parked on the property in full compliance with a valid sticker who is "not allowed to park his vehicle on the property". Stickering the vehicle for no legal reason, multiple times are systematic acts against me, so I am suing them for harassment. They also stated that they have people "watching me" which is the legal definition of stalking.

    I sued the HOA who supposedly "gave the order" to tow, even though they refuse to give me a copy of the towing order, the Property Management company who initiated the towing order and also the person who is acting agent and president of both because she was the one who physically picked up the phone and ordered the tow. So all in all I'm suing 1 person but in three capacities. My theory is if the judge doesn't allow me to sue in one capacity, I can at least win in the others. Furthermore, my argument is this. When she failed to follow the bylaws set forth by her own company, she was acting upon her own accord so this matter ceased to be "normal business practices".

    From my research, I have been unable to find any legal basis for the counter-suit for attorneys fees. This is a small claims case. They CHOOSE to hire an attorney, so they did that on their own free will.

    So, can I get some opinions on the matters? I have recorded phone calls from the towing companies and everything documented. I know I will have to have the people on the other end validate the phone calls in court, so I plan to call them to court. I have the bylaws which they violated and a witness who states the vehicle is 100% operable and witnessed me move the vehicle on multiple occasions.


    Any advice or comments would be greatly appreciated.
    Last edited by markja; 05-02-2012 at 01:26 PM.
  2. #2
    Willlyjo Guest
    Quote Originally Posted by markja View Post
    Colorado

    Hello. I am going to small claims court against my HOA for illegally towing my vehicle. The vehicles were authorized to be parked in the parking lot, both displayed valid parking stickers, both are completely operable.

    The initial reason the HOA gave, along with the documents I received from the tow company stated the vehicle was towed because no commercial vehicles are allowed on the property. I've had a problem with this HOA since I moved in. They don't like my work van being parked in the parking lot but the bylaws state that "no vehicle under 3/4th tons shall be considered a commercial vehicle". Also, State and Federal law states that two elements must be met to classify a vehicle as commercial. 1 - it must be used for commerce and 2 - it must be over 3/4th tons. My vehicle is a half ton and not classified a commercial vehicle.

    Once I brought this to their attention they stated the vehicle is inoperable and parked in the same spot. The bylaws state that a vehicle is considered inoperable when it has "not moved by it's own propulsion system for more than 14 days". My vehicle is in perfect condition, and I even took a video of me driving around with the sticker they placed on my window.

    They stickered my vehicle multiple times since I've lived here. First time, they couldn't figure out why. THey said it didn't display a valid parking sticker. When I explained it did, they said that's impossible because they hadn't issued me one yet. I explained that I have the letter in which they sent it with post marked a month ago. Then they changed their story to say that it was parked in a handicap spot, then it was double parked and the story kept changing. I demanded they send someone to remove the sticker but they told me to "take them to court" for the damages.

    They again stickered my vehicle for no reason. I took the video and send it to them. They told me simply "driving the vehicle" isn't enough and that it had to be parked in the street and "not allowed on the property". I asked them to legally prove their position and they refused.

    A month later, without notice, sticker or anything, the vehicle was towed. The bylaws state they are to deliver a handwritten notice to the owner, describing the vehicle to be towed and IF they cannot "reasonably ascertain" the identity of the owner, then they can sticker the vehicle. However, my vehicle is displaying valid parking passes which are uniquely numbered, so there is no reason to believe they could not "reasonably ascertain" the identity of the owner, particularly since they stickered the vehicle on multiple occasions unjustly.

    I sent them a cease and desist letter about 90 days prior to the towing, barring them from "marring my vehicle" in any way, which is the legal definition of vandalism. They just ignored it.

    Since I filed the lawsuit they have let me live in peace, which is all I really wanted besides recovery of the expenses to tow the vehicle. They decided to hire an attorney to represent them in SMALL CLAIMS court and they are threatening to countersue for legal fees if I don't "walk away". I would add intimidation to the list, at least in my book.

    They have refused to settle this matter in almost a year so now we're going to court in the next few weeks. I am sueing them for the max amount the law will allow for recovery of my damages plus punitive damages for harassment and discrimination. I am the only owner who has a vehicle parked on the property in full compliance with a valid sticker who is "not allowed to park his vehicle on the property". Stickering the vehicle for no legal reason, multiple times are systematic acts against me, so I am suing them for harassment. They also stated that they have people "watching me" which is the legal definition of stalking.

    I sued the HOA who supposedly "gave the order" to tow, even though they refuse to give me a copy of the towing order, the Property Management company who initiated the towing order and also the person who is acting agent and president of both. So all in all I'm suing 1 person but in three capacities. My theory is if the judge doesn't allow me to sue in one capacity, I can at least win in the others.

    From my research, I have been unable to find any legal basis for the counter-suit for attorneys fees. This is a small claims case. They CHOOSE to hire an attorney, so they did that on their own free will.

    So, can I get some opinions on the matters? I have recorded phone calls from the towing companies and everything documented. I know I will have to have the people on the other end validate the phone calls in court, so I plan to call them to court. I have the bylaws which they violated and a witness who states the vehicle is 100% operable and witnessed me move the vehicle on multiple occasions.


    Any advice or comments would be greatly appreciated.
    I'm sorry you are being harassed by this malicious agency! If they should counter sue you, then you'd have another case against them for "Malicious Prosecution"! I don't see how you wouldn't prevail in Small Claims Court! You seem to have everything covered and I hope the judge really hammers the HOA for their unacceptable behavior!! Good luck and let us know the outcome!
  3. #3
    You Are Guilty is offline Senior Member
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    Most likely, the attorneys fees are recoverable pursuant to your CC&Rs (or other HOA documents). Break them out and look them over. Absent such a provision, you cannot be held liable. (And I don't mean to imply even if the clause is there that you would - but at least it becomes possible).

    Incidentally, don't count on getting "punitives" or discrimination damages, but you should be reimbursed for all your out of pockets. Bring your receipts.

    Good luck.
    Quote Originally Posted by Tranquility
    Once you get to crazy land, it is only a guess on how to get out.
  4. #4
    Willlyjo Guest
    Quote Originally Posted by You Are Guilty View Post
    Most likely, the attorneys fees are recoverable pursuant to your CC&Rs (or other HOA documents). Break them out and look them over. Absent such a provision, you cannot be held liable. (And I don't mean to imply even if the clause is there that you would - but at least it becomes possible).

    Incidentally, don't count on getting "punitives" or discrimination damages, but you should be reimbursed for all your out of pockets. Bring your receipts.

    Good luck.
    Judges in small claims proceedings have been known to award punitive damages due to malicious behavior by the Defendants.
  5. #5
    You Are Guilty is offline Senior Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by Willlyjo View Post
    Judges in small claims proceedings have been known to award punitive damages due to malicious behavior by the Defendants.
    Do you deliberately try to always be wrong, or is it just a natural gift?

    http://scholar.google.com/scholar_ca...=1&oi=scholarr
    Quote Originally Posted by Tranquility
    Once you get to crazy land, it is only a guess on how to get out.
  6. #6
    Stevef is offline Senior Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by You Are Guilty View Post
    Do you deliberately try to always be wrong, or is it just a natural gift?

    http://scholar.google.com/scholar_ca...=1&oi=scholarr
    Judge Judy does it all the time
    Last edited by Stevef; 05-02-2012 at 02:07 PM.
  7. #7
    You Are Guilty is offline Senior Member
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    In her defense, she was like that in Family Court too, so at least you knew what you were getting. But personally, I'm a Wapner guy.
    Quote Originally Posted by Tranquility
    Once you get to crazy land, it is only a guess on how to get out.
  8. #8
    Willlyjo Guest
    Quote Originally Posted by You Are Guilty View Post
    Do you deliberately try to always be wrong, or is it just a natural gift?

    http://scholar.google.com/scholar_ca...=1&oi=scholarr
    You are the only one who thinks I'm always wrong. Your posted statement that I'm always wrong is totally wrong! There are more ingredients to the Op's circumstances than just Breach of Contract--there is also harassment!!

    Call it punitive damages or whatever, but Judges have been known to "Punish" the Defendant for the behavior that caused Plaintiffs problems in excess of the economical damages in various small claims proceedings. There was a thread not long ago in this very forum pointing that out. It was a case against an Airline in which the Plaintiff DID in fact receive an award in excess of his economical losses. It too was a Breach of Contract type of case with circumstances extraneous to the breach. So I'm afraid you are guilty of not being entirely accurate extraneous to the fact you are WRONG about me always being wrong!
  9. #9
    Zigner is offline Senior Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by Willlyjo View Post
    You are the only one who thinks I'm always wrong. Your posted statement that I'm always wrong is totally wrong! There are more ingredients to the Op's circumstances than just Breach of Contract--there is also harassment!!

    Call it punitive damages or whatever, but Judges have been known to "Punish" the Defendant for the behavior that caused Plaintiffs problems in excess of the economical damages in various small claims proceedings. There was a thread not long ago in this very forum pointing that out. It was a case against an Airline in which the Plaintiff DID in fact receive an award in excess of his economical losses. It too was a Breach of Contract type of case with circumstances extraneous to the breach. So I'm afraid you are guilty of not being entirely accurate extraneous to the fact you are WRONG about me always being wrong!
    YAG was right
  10. #10
    You Are Guilty is offline Senior Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by Willlyjo View Post
    You are the only one who thinks I'm always wrong. Your posted statement that I'm always wrong is totally wrong! There are more ingredients to the Op's circumstances than just Breach of Contract--there is also harassment!!

    Call it punitive damages or whatever, but Judges have been known to "Punish" the Defendant for the behavior that caused Plaintiffs problems in excess of the economical damages in various small claims proceedings. There was a thread not long ago in this very forum pointing that out. It was a case against an Airline in which the Plaintiff DID in fact receive an award in excess of his economical losses. It too was a Breach of Contract type of case with circumstances extraneous to the breach. So I'm afraid you are guilty of not being entirely accurate extraneous to the fact you are WRONG about me always being wrong!
    Listen, I appreciate that not everyone on this forum is a lawyer. But telling someone that they can (will?) get punitive damages, a) in small claims court and b) on a breach of contract claim, is basic, Law 101 type stuff. Giving people misinformation, whether deliberately or inadvertently, does them, and this forum, a huge disservice.

    If you didn't know the correct answer (and it is clear you do not), maybe 3 minutes of Google would have clarified it for you. Instead, you gave an answer based off what you learned from "Judge Mathis". And you've done it since you started posting here. No one would care if you posted correctly - but you get grief because no one wants to have to correct every single post you make that contains such glaring errors.

    With that said, read the link I posted.
    Quote Originally Posted by Tranquility
    Once you get to crazy land, it is only a guess on how to get out.
  11. #11
    Willlyjo Guest
    Quote Originally Posted by You Are Guilty View Post
    Listen, I appreciate that not everyone on this forum is a lawyer. But telling someone that they can (will?) get punitive damages, a) in small claims court and b) on a breach of contract claim, is basic, Law 101 type stuff. Giving people misinformation, whether deliberately or inadvertently, does them, and this forum, a huge disservice.

    If you didn't know the correct answer (and it is clear you do not), maybe 3 minutes of Google would have clarified it for you. Instead, you gave an answer based off what you learned from "Judge Mathis". And you've done it since you started posting here. No one would care if you posted correctly - but you get grief because no one wants to have to correct every single post you make that contains such glaring errors.

    With that said, read the link I posted.
    Listen...I did not tell the OP that it was cut in stone that he would be able to receive punitve damages on top of his economical losses! Pay attention to what was said in my post, please

    I stick by what I said and that is that judges have been known to award damages in excess of that which is economical, to Plaintiffs in small claims proceedings! One such proceeding was pointed out in this forum not too long ago when the Plaintiff came back and posted an update, which showed he was awarded extra damages meant to punish the Defendant in that case! BTW, as I said, that case was also a Breach of Contract type case against an Airliner!

    I probably know more about the law than you'd ever know. I go by memory and the vast knowledge I've attained over the years. You seem to go by only what you can google up in response to most of the posts you respond to.

    Also, I read your elongated link and it concerns major civil litigation! The OP's small claims matter (like all small claims matters) is a low-key, casual affair compared to major litigation and if a Plaintiff wants to ask for damages for harassment or an injury which are other ingredients outside of the Breach of Contract, the judge may possibly award for that as well, which HAS happened at one time or another in small claims proceedings!
    Last edited by Willlyjo; 05-03-2012 at 01:55 PM.
  12. #12
    You Are Guilty is offline Senior Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by Willlyjo View Post
    Listen...I did not tell the OP that it was cut in stone that he would be able to receive punitve damages on top of his economical losses! Pay attention to what was said in my post, please

    I stick by what I said and that is that judges have been known to award damages in excess of that which is economical, to Plaintiffs in small claims proceedings! One such proceeding was pointed out in this forum not too long ago when the Plaintiff came back and posted an update, which showed he was awarded extra damages meant to punish the Defendant in that case! BTW, as I said, that case was also a Breach of Contract type case against an Airliner!

    I probably know more about the law than you'd ever know. I go by memory and the vast knowledge I've attained over the years. You seem to go by only what you can google up in response to most of the posts you respond to.

    Also, I read your elongated link and it concerns major civil litigation! The OP's small claims matter (like all small claims matters) is a low-key, casual affair compared to major litigation and if a Plaintiff wants to ask for damages for harassment or an injury which are other ingredients outside of the Breach of Contract, the judge may possibly award for that as well, which HAS happened at one time or another in small claims proceedings!
    Quoted for posterity, but I'm certainly not going to waste my time any further.
    Quote Originally Posted by Tranquility
    Once you get to crazy land, it is only a guess on how to get out.
  13. #13
    markja is offline Junior Member
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    re

    Hey guys. thank you for the great replies! I have another question maybe someone knows the answer to. The defendants got an attorney. He's either a complete moron or he thinks I'm a complete moron. He actually demanded all of my evidence through e-mail! I wrote him back and told him his request was denied in this fashion. Anyway, the case was moved to County Court since they got an attorney but it has a small claims case number. I asked three different clerks and one even asked a judge in the County Court I am going to and they all say this is being tried by small claims rules. Any idea what exactly takes place when they move a case from small claims to county because the defendants hired an attorney?

    I'm 99.9999999% certain this is being tried as a small claims case. But there is still that .0000001%

    Thanks
  14. #14
    Stevef is offline Senior Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by markja View Post
    He actually demanded all of my evidence through e-mail! I wrote him back and told him his request was denied in this fashion.
    Your opponent is entitled to all relevant information prior to trial. It's called discovery. Chances are, if you have the slam dunk case you think you do, if you show your evidence to the attorney, he will tell his client to settle.
  15. #15
    markja is offline Junior Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by Stevef View Post
    Your opponent is entitled to all relevant information prior to trial. It's called discovery. Chances are, if you have the slam dunk case you think you do, if you show your evidence to the attorney, he will tell his client to settle.

    Thank you for the reply. I am familiar with the Rules Of Evidence but in small claims court it is specified that no discovery or disclosure is permitted (or required I should say), which is the reason for my confusion.

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