Mulligan v. Panther Valley Property Owners Assn. Case Brief

Summary of Mulligan v. Panther Valley Property Owners Assn., Superior Ct. of NJ, Appellate Div. (2001)

Parties: Mulligan interested party; DF is property association who made the vote in dispute.

Cause of action/remedy sought: The following is an equitable action for an injunction against the order as it violates public policy.

Procedural History: Court found for association.

Facts: Homeowners association passed a vote restricting their gated community from any tier-3 sex offenders (those who were at the highest risk of repeating). Challenged on basis of being violation of public policy.

Issue(s): Under NJ property law, is a property association’s restriction against tier-3 sex offenders against public policy when

Holding: Yes. Despite the record’s deficiency to decide the question, it was PL’s burden to establish such a record, the association was entitled to judgment.

Court’s Rationale/Reasoning: Other communities have passed tier-3 restrictions, even though this court does not know how many have, and under what scope they have passed such amendments. Based on those findings, it is not possible to tell if there is a discriminatory effect to such a rule, and therefore unable to tell if it is against public policy.

The trial record is also deficient in that there is no mention of whether or not the various associations who take such action are acting subsequent to municipal ordinances to the same effect, but the court does know that the association turned over responsibilities for traffic enforcement, to mention one, and is precluded from acting independently in that sphere.

Rule: Court applied a reasonableness test rather than NY’s business judgment test b/c the changes were made by a vote of the members rather than by the board of directors.

Did court avoid issues?: Mulligan was banking that the court would agree with her a second time, after she challenged a ticket form the association which was not based on municipal law.

Dicta: The tier-3 criminals were not a protected group within the terms of NJ’s anti-discrimination laws. They are not handicapped, so that they would be subject to any discriminatory laws based on that either. But this does not also mean that everyone should discriminate against them, forcing them to live in the shadows or in seclusion.

This court suggests that some neighborhood services might be deemed as enforceable under state and local authority.

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