Plaintiff trailer park brought suit against defendant
for trespass, property damage, and negligent entrustment of his vehicle.
There were a series of 10 mysterious incidents where a newer-model
Ford Mustang was using the grassy area of the park to perform driving
exhibitions that included “doughnut-making.” The result was always
the same: damage to the lawn and sprinkler heads.
Rather than simply erect a fence around the lawn after the first three
exhibitions, the park instead chose to purchase expensive video-surveil-lance equipment in an attempt to identify the offending driver. The
fourth incident happened in broad
daylight on a rainy morning. Several
photos of a newer-model Mustang
were captured. The parties disputed
whether the photos depict a green or
a gray vehicle. The seventh incident
was late at night and resulted in dark,
grainy photographs that hinted the
license plate may have been the defendant’s.
The tenth and final incident
brought an end to this hooliganism.
For it was on that fateful night that
defendant’s gray Ford Mustang came
to a smoky rest on the park’s lawn after
smashing into a palm tree.
Defendant was intoxicated that
evening and asked his roommate to
serve as designated driver. The
defendant was laid out in the
back seat, stone drunk, with his
girlfriend. The roommate was
driving, and a mutual friend
was in the passenger seat. The
roommate and passenger corroborated the defendant’s testimo-
ny. These two young gentlemen appeared in photographs taken
by plaintiff’s security cameras shortly after the accident.
The police were called and a report taken. The defendant
admitted to having a friend who once lived in the trailer park,
The defendant’s (now former) roommate took
the stand and admitted to driving the Mustang on
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FRANK J. CONTI has been a
licensed Arizona attorney in good
standing since 1990. Since 2008
he has served as the elected
justice of the peace for the
Dreamy Draw Justice Court, which
serves northeast Phoenix and
parts of Paradise Valley.
Judge Conti can be reached at
the night of the accident. He had recently
pleaded guilty to criminal damage as a
result of the crash. There was no evidence
that the roommate was intoxicated or oth-
erwise unable to drive safely, or that the
defendant knew or should have known
that the roommate was incompetent. Nor
was the roommate charged with DUI. He
was, however, charged with criminal dam-
age, pled guilty, and
ordered to pay resti-
The former roommate also testified
that he didn’t own
a vehicle and often
borrowed the defendant’s Mustang. He
admitted to driving
it on the trailer park
lawn without defendant’s knowledge or
consent on at least
two prior occasions.
As he had never
before wrapped it
around a palm tree,
there was no way
for the defendant
to know of his activities.
the plaintiff proved
was that the defendant’s vehicle may have
twice been driven on the park lawn. These
were the incidents where images of a green
or gray Mustang and a fuzzy license plate
were photographed. But there was no evi-
dence that the defendant drove on the park
lawn himself, knowingly permitted an
incompetent or intoxicated person to
drive his car, or intentionally permit-
ted or encouraged his former
roommate to commit trespass
or criminal damage.
Judgment for the defendant.
On that fateful night,
defendent’s gray Ford
Mustang came to
a smoky rest on the
park’s lawn after
smashing into a
The case of the trailer-park doughnut-maker