A Monroe County, Pennsylvania Court recently ruled that a property owners’ association was not legally responsible for a traffic accident caused by a missing stop sign on the association’s road.
In Brown v. Emerald Lakes Association, Deanne Brown was driving on Sullivan Trail Road and was injured when a vehicle driven by Katherine Russaw crashed into her after failing to stop at the intersection of Sullivan Trail and Clearview Road.
Clearview Road was owned by the Emerald Lakes POA and Sullivan Trail is owned by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.
The stop sign was rumored to have been removed as a prank. There was evidence that the Emerald Lakes Security force patrolled the community and was tasked with inspecting signage.
The court decided it was a question for a jury to decide whether the Association’s security patrol should have seen that the sign was missing and done something about it.
However, the Court decided that a jury would never hear the claims against the Association.
Adopting the arguments of the POA, the court held that a private property owners’ association had no duty at all to maintain the stop sign, even though it might prevent injury.
The court said:
“…[W]e agree that a private association, which maintains its own private roads, is under no duty to erect traffic control signs, including stop signs, or to repair or replace them, even if they know they are missing.”
This is good news for Pocono POA’s but also surprising from a common-sense perspective. The decision potentially excuses associations from erecting signage that they know can ensure the safety of their residents. I encourage you to read the opinion yourself. It is available here.
My office represents a number of associations and, regardless of whether there is a legal duty to erect such signs, I encourage all associations to protect the safety of their members by doing so.