SACRAMENTO (CN) - Nine condo residents claim Taser-toting private security guards burst into their homes at 3 a.m. and assaulted them, forcing them into the street in their underwear, in a foreclosure the residents had never been informed of.
One plaintiff claims that when he finally was allowed back into his home, naked pictures of him and his girlfriend were missing.
Lead plaintiff Steven Saxon sued Paladin Protection Services dba Paladin Private Security and the Jasmine Homeowners Association in Superior Court.
Saxon, who was the building's lessee, claims the guards accused the plaintiffs of being "squatters," though none of them were aware of the foreclosure action against the building and none had received service of the lawsuit.
After a default judgment was issued, "in the wee hours of April 30, 2011, defendants came onto plaintiffs' residence, uninvited, at approximately between 3 a.m. and 3:30 a.m., performing a military style raid of plaintiffs' residence," according to the complaint.
Paladin Private Security conducted the raid, Saxon says. When tenant-plaintiff Jedediah Main opened his door, "he was met with a security officer for Paladin who had a Taser gun holstered on his hip. Mr. Main thought it was a gun. The security officer told Mr. Main that he was being charged with burglary and that other officers were on the way," the complaint states.
Tenant-plaintiff Nick Bartilotta "was told that he was trespassing and that he was going to be charged with burglary. They ordered him to hurry up and get out of the condo, allowing him no time to get dressed."
Tenant-plaintiff Justin Bond says, "A security guard barged in telling him to leave, and pointed what he thought were guns at him. The Security officer told Mr. Bond that he was a house burglar, and that they were going to take them to jail.
"Plaintiff Darrin Martin was awoken by the banging at the door. He stumbled to his feet to see what was going on and the guard was already in the house yelling at the top of his lungs for everyone to get outside. He asked for Mr. Martin's identification card and ran a check on everyone in the condo."
Martin says guards accused him of "breaking and entering" into his own condo.
Once outside, "Mr. Martin had to urinate, at which time the guard outside allowed him to go inside. When Mr. Martin got to the top of the stairs, he saw two guards going through cabinets and their personal property."
The security guards threatened several tenants with Tasers, saying, "Don't move or we'll fry you," and, eventually, "forced them to stay outside in the cold for around thirty minutes in their underwear; they were not permitted to go back into their residence even to get dressed," the complaint states.
Saxon says he explained to a security officer that he had been paying all of the utilities and the security officer said that, "'between you, me and the lamppost, the homeowners' association is over-zealous."
"The security officers apologized and said it was all a misunderstanding, and then left," the complaint states.
"They occupied and controlled the premises approximately two hours, holding plaintiffs against their will and preventing them by the use of force and/or the threat to use force for freely moving and entering their residence. ...
"During this approximate two-hour ordeal, the armed men threatened arrest and incarceration, menaced the plaintiffs with weapons, engaged in intimidation, positioning themselves immediately in front of and/or behind the plaintiffs, glaring at them menacingly and invading the plaintiffs' space."
When the plaintiffs returned to their homes, they saw that their personal belongings had been sifted through, and one man discovered that "naked photos of his girlfriend and himself ... had been taken."
The plaintiffs seek damages for trespass, extortion, assault and battery, false imprisonment, invasion of privacy, conversion and intentional infliction of emotional distress.
They are represented by Jeffrey Jacobs.