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Kenneth E. Poris v. Lake Holiday Property Owners Association

January 24, 2012


Appeal from the Circuit Court of the 13th Judicial Circuit La Salle County, Illinois Circuit No. 09-CH-73 Honorable Eugene P. Daugherity Judge Presiding

JUSTICE LYTTON delivered the judgment of the court, with opinion.

Justices Holdridge and O'Brien concurred in the judgment and opinion.


¶ 1 Plaintiff, Kenneth E. Poris, filed a 14-count complaint against defendants, Lake Holiday Property Owners Association, Inc. (Association), its board of directors, its chief of security and one of its security officers. Defendants filed a motion for summary judgment on all counts. Plaintiff filed a cross-motion for summary judgment on several counts. The trial court granted defendants' motion for summary judgment. On appeal, plaintiff argues that the trial court erred in granting summary judgment to the Association on his declaratory judgment and false imprisonment claims. We affirm in part, reverse in part and remand.


¶ 3 Plaintiff owns property in Lake Holiday Development. He is a member of the Association. The Association is a not-for-profit Illinois corporation incorporated in 1965. Its articles of incorporation state the purposes for which it was formed:

"To promote and enhance the civic and social interests of the owners of real estate in Lake Holiday Development *** in so far as those interests relate to the maintenance of Lake Holiday. To acquire and hold real estate in its corporate name; to construct and maintain thereon buildings and structures of all types, roadways, beaches; and, to do all other things reasonably necessary thereofor [sic] ***."

¶ 4 Pursuant to its bylaws, the Association is governed by a board of directors. The board established the Lake Holiday Private Security Department, created a manual for the department and hired a chief of security, Matthew Clifford, who reports to the board.

¶ 5 The board is authorized to adopt rules and regulations that the board deems necessary for the best interests of the Association and its members. The board promulgated several rules pertinent to this case. The board adopted a rule authorizing "private security officers" to enforce the Board's rules and regulations, including the power to "issue citations for violations." Another rule prohibits members from obstructing officers:

"No person shall knowingly resist or obstruct the performance by one known to the person to be a public safety officer of any authorized act within his or her official capacity. No person shall fail or refuse to comply with any lawful order or direction of any public safety officer authorized by the Lake Holiday Property Owners Association. A request to examine personal identification, such as a driver's license, in addition to a member's amenity pass shall be honored. CLASS A VIOLATION."

¶ 6 The board also approved a rule to regulate speed on Lake Holiday property:

"Unless otherwise posted, the speed limit on all Lake Holiday roads shall be 25 miles per hour. Speed limits shall be strictly enforced. Violations from 1 to 10 mph over the posted speed limit are CLASS C VIOLATIONS. From 11 to 15 mph over the posted speed limit are CLASS B violations. From 16 mph or over the posted limit are CLASS A VIOLATIONS."

A Class A violation carries a $200 penalty for a first offense. A Class B violation is punishable by a $100 fine for a first offense. The fine for a Class C violation is $50 for a first offense.

¶ 7 The security department consists of several "private security officers" in addition to Clifford. The board purchased vehicles for the security department and equipped the vehicles with oscillating and flashing lights, radar units and audio and video recording equipment. According to the security department manual, "Traffic violation enforcement is one of many routine tasks performed by officers." All officers are required to wear a badge, uniform and "duty belt." A "duty belt" may "include weapons that the officer is certified to carry on duty."

¶ 8 On October 20, 2008, plaintiff was traveling on Farmer's Road, which is located in the Lake Holiday Development and owned by the Association. James Podnar, a security officer employed by the Association, measured plaintiff's speed, using a radar unit, at 34 miles per hour. Podnar activated the white and yellow oscillating lights on his security vehicle and pulled plaintiff over. The incident was videotaped from Podnar's security vehicle.

¶ 9 Immediately after he was pulled over, plaintiff exited his vehicle and engaged in conversation with Podnar. Podnar instructed plaintiff to get back in his vehicle and stay there for safety reasons. Plaintiff complied. Podnar then approached plaintiff's vehicle and requested an Association membership card and driver's license from plaintiff. Plaintiff provided the items to Podnar. Podnar took plaintiff's driver's license back to his vehicle. Four-and-a-half minutes later, Podnar exited his vehicle and approached plaintiff's vehicle.

¶ 10 As soon as Podnar reached plaintiff's vehicle, he informed plaintiff that he was being recorded. Podnar told plaintiff that he was issuing him a citation for speeding. When plaintiff inquired whether Podnar was a police officer, Podnar responded that he worked for Lake Holiday Private Security and was not a police officer. Plaintiff repeatedly told Podnar that he had no authority to detain him. Podnar responded, "I am not detaining you." Podnar issued plaintiff a citation for speeding.

¶ 11 In February 2009, plaintiff filed a complaint against the Association, its board members, Clifford and Podnar. The complaint sought injunctive and declaratory relief, among other things. On February 19, 2009, plaintiff filed a motion for a temporary restraining order prohibiting defendants from pursuing his speeding citation.

¶ 12 At a hearing on plaintiff's motion, plaintiff testified that on October 20, 2008, while traveling on Farmer's Road, he saw white and amber oscillating lights behind him. He pulled over, believing that an emergency vehicle was behind him. Podnar, who was wearing a uniform and a "large belt" and had a "large club-like flashlight," got out of his squad car. Podnar told plaintiff in "a very authoritative, forceful voice" to get back in his vehicle. Plaintiff complied. Plaintiff testified that he did not feel free to leave. He believed he was under arrest. Following the hearing, the trial court denied plaintiff's motion for a temporary injunction.

¶ 13 Clifford testified that he has been an officer for the Association for 13 years and the chief of security for 9 years. For his entire employment with the Association, it has been the policy and practice of the security department to pull over drivers who are violating Association rules.

ΒΆ 14 The Association has equipped security vehicles with video and audio recording equipment since 2000. It is the procedure of the department to inform drivers that they are being recorded. If a driver says he does not want to be ...

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