Man to Pay $20,000 Legal Fees For Inappropriate Surveillance Camera

By: Carlton Purvis, Published on Feb 07, 2014

This man has been court ordered to pay $20,000 in legal fees over inappropriate surveillance camera use. Was it his fault? Or was it bad advice from the integrator who assisted him? Or is this simply a case of the courts being unreasonable?

In this note, we examine a court case where a regular person with a camera on his house resulted in years of legal fighting and a sizeable financial fee.

The ****

*** ******** ******* **** Joel ***** *** ** a *** ** *** property. *** ********* *** the ****** ***** *** common ***** ** *** subdivision, *** **** **** people’s *****. ********* **** “annoyed *** ********* ******* they **** ***** ******* activities **** ***** *******,” according ** ***** *********. The ***** ***** *****’* Association ** ******** ******, California *** ********* ***** a ********* ******* ***** which *** ********* ***** they **** ** * settlement *********.

** * ****-**** ******* on **** **, ****, the ******* ****** **** Toler’s ****** ***** ** “mechanically ********** *** ******** so **** ** ***** only *** ***** **** portion ** [*****'*] ******** and ****** **** *** of *** *********' ********* [sic]." *** ********* **** him ** **** ** fix *** *******.

* ***** *****, ********* say ***** *** *** taken *** ***** ** shield *** ******. ******** lawyers ******** *** ***** photos **** ********* ***** of *** ****** ******* shielding ** **.

*****, *******, *** **** and ****** ** ******** the ******’* ***** ** view. ** ******** *** court **** * ******* from *** ***** **********, Super ********, ***. ********** performed **** ** *** camera ** “******* *** adjust ****** ******* ** south **** ****** ** property. ********** ******** ** camera ****** **** ***°—***° eliminating *** **** ** the *****-****** ******** ****."

******* ****, *** ***** ruled **** *** ************ did *** ********** “*********” and **** ***** *** breached *** ***** ** the **********. ** *** ordered ** *** ********’* fees.

Why *** ** ****?

***** ***** *** ****** so ** ****’* ******* at *** ********* *******, but *** ***** ***** determined ** ******** *** settlement ** *** ********* its ***** *******. *** settlement **** *** ******’* field ** **** *** to ** **********,***** *** ** ** shielded. **'* ************ *** much ********* *** ****** would **** **** ** restrict *** ***** ** view.

** ******** ****, ** filed * ****** ** reconsider **** ********* **** his **********. *** ********** said ***** *** ********* a ******, *** ** told *** **** **** the ****** ** * high ****, *** **** hitting ******* * ****** would ********* **** *** autofocus *******. *** ********** suggested **** ******* **** only *** **** ** limit *** ***** ** view ** *** ******. It’s *** ***** ******* the ********** **** *** work ** *** ***** was **** ** * court **********, *** ****’* probably ********* **** ****** have **** *********.

********* ******* ****** ************ “that ** *** ***** on *** **** ** the ********** **** *** camera *** ** ** both ************ ********** *** shielded.”

***** **** **** *** camera ********** *** *** it **** ** *** garage "***** ** *** views *******." *** ***** attorney’s **** ***** *** ordered ** ***: $**,***.

Comments (16)

Toler failed to follow the agreement. It is his reponsibility to properly interpret and apply the requirements.

He is, however, free to sue his integrator and see where that goes.


Next case....

Do you think the integrator is at fault? I don't see how an integrator/installer/electrician, etc. is responsible for ensuring a technical task meets a court agreement.

As an excercise of speculation, which is all we can do since we don't know specific details, it's really up to a jury to speculate on how liable the integrator may be, which in a civil suit is subjective and not easily defined in wrtitten law. Did toler tell his integrator he just needed the PTZ restricted and the integrator did what he was supposed to do? If so, I can't see a lot of liability in that. But if he informed the integrtaor of the details of the agreement, and the integrator said something like "don't worry about shielding, we'll do this instead and it will be enough", well one could argue that then the integrator took on a certain amount of reponsinbility to ensure compliance and is reponsible to some extent, if maybe at least a refund of what Toler paid him, and in civil court you don't need "beyond a reasonable doubt".

I would have taken the PTZ down. Change it for a fixed zoom camera. Problem solved.

I guess that if it's just programming that doesn't allow the camera to move past a certain point, then why not just change the programming when you feel like peeping into your neighbors' windows? It's not like there's a record of programming changes in the PTZ, after all.

Agree. To up level, though, why is having a PTZ against the law? :)

Presumably, this is against some rule in the homeowner's association? yes/no? Anyone know if this is common?

I can't speak for that jurisdiction, but here in Quebec, because of privacy laws, there are restrictions on direct views relative to the dividing line between two properties.

Now, this applies specifically to clear glass windows and doors, but I'm sure you could argue that a PTZ shouldn't be installed in a way that it gives you a direct view onto a neighbor's property, and the fact there's zoom capability would probably make it so that it would have to be even further away, and possibly physically shielded from view altogether.

Note: 1,5 meters is approximately 5 feet.

Is there any jurisprudence about pointing telescopes or binoculars at a neighbor's private property in California?

That would probably apply to this case as well.

From the judgement:

The pole now stands as a lone piece of wood in the cold

It sounds as if the PTZ was was installed at the top of a piece of 4"x4" out in the open? Is that recommennded?

Would the autofocus work at all in adverse weather condition, with or without the shield installed?

Can this camera see anywhere where a person on the street would not be able to see?

We install cameras all over the place, with the theory that if people want privacy from a camera, then they should design privacy from passerby.

Maybe the camera was installed in a way that made it a syping eye, but then what about when the local authorities install cameras atop high poles?

"What about when the local authorities install cameras atop high poles?"

Frequently, privacy zones are programmed on the camera to block out viewing into windows / private areas.



How frequent is it? 70% of public surveilance cases in USA, for example?

Having looked again, this section of California's Civil Code would probably apply to this particular case:

Physical & Constructive Invasions of Privacy - California Civil Code section 1708.8

(b) A person is liable for constructive invasion of privacy when the defendant attempts to capture, in a manner that is offensive to a reasonable person, any type of visual image, sound recording, or other physical impression of the plaintiff engaging in a personal or familial activity under circumstances in which the plaintiff had a reasonable expectation of privacy, through the use of a visual or auditory enhancing device, regardless of whether there is a physical trespass, if this image, sound recording, or other physical impression could not have been achieved without a trespass unless the visual or auditory enhancing device was used.

Now the question is, should the installer have been aware of this, informed his client, and obtained proof he did in writing when the PTZ was first installed, as Marty Major pointed out in another thread? And did he?

next time we can be blindfolded when we go to the streets to prevent watching into one others backyard...

No need to do that.

As long as you're not walking around with a PTZ at the top of a pole strapped to a helmet enabling you to peer over your neigbours' six foot or higher fences and cedar hedges, you should be fine. ;)

But I'm 6'4". I see over most fences quite easily!

If that's the case, don't walk around with a PTZ strapped to your forehead. Or binoculars glued to your eyes. Otherwise, you could be at risk. ;)

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