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Lawsuit: Rhodes Ranch HOA bullied resident after crash

Updated June 12, 2023 - 3:58 pm

Maria Cervantes Alvarado didn’t want all of her Rhodes Ranch neighbors to know she had sued the homeowners association in the aftermath of a car crash.

In April 2022, Cervantes was taking one of her nightly walks and was in a crosswalk when a car struck her inside the gated southwest valley community. She later filed a lawsuit against the Rhodes Ranch homeowners association, alleging that it neglected to install proper lighting at the intersection, contributing to the crash.

The litigation moved quietly through the court system until May, when Cervantes’ friends started sending her Facebook and Nextdoor posts from some of the other 4,000 residents discussing her lawsuit.

Cervantes said that the homeowners association had mailed all Rhodes Ranch residents a notice of an upcoming closed meeting where board members planned to talk about her lawsuit, and posted copies of the letters in the neighborhood’s clubhouse.

“Everybody would know my name now,” Cervantes recalled during a recent interview. “I feel so exposed.”

Attorneys for the homeowners association did not respond to a request for comment.

The crash occurred the evening of April 14, 2022, at the intersection of Rhodes Ranch Parkway and Sherwood Greens Drive, according to a Metropolitan Police Department traffic report. An officer wrote that the intersection “was limited in lighting.”

Cervantes said the impact of the crash threw her about 20 feet and knocked her briefly unconscious. She said she injured her knee, and she still experiences ongoing headaches and neck pain.

Joseph Tsze, the driver of the vehicle, was named as a defendant in Cervantes’ suit, and the Rhodes Ranch homeowners association also filed a counterclaim against him, alleging that he held more culpability in the crash.

The homeowners association had opposed a motion from Tsze to reach a settlement with Cervantes, but a judge approved the settlement during a hearing on Thursday, said Tsze’s attorney, Imran Anwar.

Anwar said he had not made any arguments in the case about lighting at the intersection.

“We just never got to the point where my client had to make a statement or offer any testimony regarding that,” he said.

Cervantes attorney, Brandon Albright, wrote in court documents that the homeowners association had conducted lighting inspections before the crash that showed the intersection didn’t meet the “required illuminance values” for Clark County roadways, according to the lawsuit.

In an interview, Albright also alleged that the homeowners association had a lapse in insurance coverage at the time of the crash.

‘Unreasonable risk’

The homeowners association has denied any wrongdoing over the lighting at the intersection. Attorneys for the association wrote in court documents that Tsze should be liable for damages to Cervantes because he is vision impaired, and driving at night “posed an unreasonable risk of harm to the Association community.”

Albright said the recent notices about the lawsuit that were posted in the community have made Cervantes feel targeted by the homeowners association. The notices alerted residents that there was an upcoming meeting with lawyers about the lawsuit, but that the meeting was closed to everyone except the association’s board of directors.

“This association, who is supposed to stick up for her and help her in her time of need, instead put her on blast in front of 4,000 community members,” he said.

Cervantes said she fears the public notices about her lawsuit will harm her business cleaning homes for extra income. Her clients all live in Rhodes Ranch, and she worries that she will loose customers after the mailed letters, public notices and social media posts.

Many of the posts on social media have been from residents expressing concern that their homeowners association fees will increase because of the lawsuit, Albright said. He said Cervantes views the notices as the homeowners association bullying her and attempting to make her back down from the lawsuit.

“This was not a mistake, they just want to put my name everywhere, whatever they want, just to let them know that this person is doing this to you,” Cervantes said.

Besides the neighborhood scrutiny, Cervantes said she still fears going outside because of the lack of streetlights.

When she moved to Rhodes Ranch, she loved the safety of a gated community for her and her three children. She wants to stay in the home she’s rented for five years, but after the events surrounding the lawsuit, Cervantes said she’s debated moving.

“The neighborhood is very nice,” she said. “They take care of you, and there’s a security guy. You can walk. The kids can go outside and play. Obviously, everything’s changed now. I don’t feel the same.”

Contact Katelyn Newberg at knewberg@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0240. Follow k_newberg on Twitter.

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