Sued For Not Having Enough Surveillance

By Carlton Purvis, Published on Apr 05, 2013

When someone is attacked on private property, how responsible is the venue? In past US cases, decisions have varied. Sometimes the courts find owners responsible for failing to take basic precautions, in others they decided it is not a contributing factor to an attack

One prominent California court case is frequently used as a justification for why more surveillance is critical but the final outcome has never been reported. We investigated, talking to a lawyer involved about what happened when a woman sued a mall and its security company for insufficient surveillance after a violent attack.

Background

A woman was stabbed, and her shoulder dislocated in an attempted kidnapping in a San Diego mall parking deck. She then sued both the mall and its security company for negligence. A nearby surveillance camera captured the attack but the images did not produce any useable evidence. A guard did come up the ramp, as part of his 30 minute rounds, just as the attacker fled. A man was arrested for the crime and identified by multiple eyewitnesses, but was eventually released for lack of evidence [link no longer available].

In court, she argued the attack was foreseeable given recent mall crimes. She also said the mall should have increased security cameras and patrols. The defendants argued there was no way they could have foreseen the violent attack she experienced and that the security in place was sufficient for both the location and the types of crimes happening in the area.

Court Rulings

In 2009, a superior court judge ruled in favor of the defendants, agreeing that an attack was not foreseeable. However, in March 2011, an appeals court ruled the case should be decided by trial. And then the case drops completely out of the headlines.

Here’s what happened since that ruling 

A couple months before the trial the mall settled for an undisclosed sum (a stipulated judgement). The case against the security company was tried in January 2012 and took two to three weeks for a verdict, says the plaintiff’s lawyer, Ben Siminou

Siminou said he thought for sure the security company would be found negligent because when he played the surveillance tape, the jurors were laughing at the terrible quality of the surveillance video. They could not believe such poor video was being used to protect the mall, he said. 

To his surprise, the plaintiff lost in a 10-2 decision. Only two jurors felt the security company was negligent. Siminou later interviewed the jurors and found that most had a hard time believing that more surveillance cameras in the parking lot would have kept the attack from happening, noting the attack happened in a camera's line of sight.

IPVM Analysis

This case is consistent with other US judgments we have seen for not having enough surveillance. The key factor cited is the disbelief that more surveillance would have prevented or stopped the crime.

We cite two related cases in a recent discussion: In a 1997 article, a Canadian attorney writes cautiously about the use dummy cameras, but finds that the potential liability of dummy cameras may not be as high as that of a broken 'call-for-help' button or other technology meant to illicit an immediate response. Indeed, that article is the source of the 'rape under a dummy camera' urban legend.

A 2004 case shows minor liability for a storage facility that had signs indicating surveillance without having any surveillance at all. A customer sued after his storage unit was burglarized and was awarded the difference between renting storage unit with surveillance vs without -- a trivial sum. Similar to the San Diego case above, the court did not find the surveillance to be a major factor noting, "a camera would not have prevented the theft because the theft occurred with signs saying there were cameras."

Comments (3) : Members only. Login. or Join.

Related Reports

Dahua Taunts Australian Government, Continues To Sell Illegal Fever Cameras on Aug 10, 2020
Dahua is effectively taunting the Australian government by continuing to sell...
ADI Branch Burglary on Apr 03, 2020
A security systems distributor branch is an odd target for burglary but that...
Genetec CEO Declares "We Don't Negotiate Payment With Patent Trolls" on Aug 11, 2020
Are patent trolls like terrorists? Genetec's CEO is coming out strongly...
The US Fight Over Facial Recognition Explained on Jul 08, 2020
The controversy around facial recognition has grown significantly in 2020,...
Facial Recognition: Weak Sales, Anti Regulation, No Favorite, Says Security Integrators on Jul 07, 2020
While facial recognition has gained greater prominence, a new IPVM study of...
Chilean Official Investigated for Motorola And Hikvision Contracts on Sep 17, 2020
A corruption investigation is underway in Chile after a crime prevention...
FDA "Does Not Intend to Object" To Unapproved Fever Detection Cameras If No 'Undue Risk' on Apr 17, 2020
The US FDA has declared it will not go after the many companies marketing...
Beware Of Feevr on Apr 14, 2020
Beware of "Feevr". The company is marketing a 'Feevr' solution that...
Forced Door Alarms For Access Control Tutorial on Aug 17, 2020
One of the most important access control alarms is also often ignored....
Alabama Schools Million Dollar Hikvision Fever Camera Deal on Aug 11, 2020
The Baldwin County, Alabama public schools purchased a $1 million, 144-camera...
Amazon, Microsoft and IBM Abandoning Face Recognition Is An "Irresponsible PR Stunt" Says AnyVision on Jul 17, 2020
In the wake of national protests against US police abuses, big tech firms...
Athena CEO Criticizes 'Deplorable' 'Nitpicking', IPVM Refutes on Mar 27, 2020
Athena Security's CEO Lisa Falzone has strongly objected to IPVM's reporting...
"He Is An Idiot!" Exclaims SIA Director John Mack on Mar 23, 2020
Here is another inside look into the "leaders" of the security industry. SIA...
ZKTeco SpeedFace+ Are Medical Devices, Per FDA Definition, Contrary Claims Are False on Jun 12, 2020
ZKTeco SpeedFace+ series products are medical devices as defined by the US...
Briefcam Responsible Use Examined on Aug 24, 2020
While mega-companies Amazon, IBM, and Microsoft have been criticized for...

Recent Reports

Consultants Online Show LIVE Today! on Oct 27, 2020
IPVM's 7th online show will feature 20+ consultants and recruiters presenting...
Eagle Eye Networks Raises $40 Million on Oct 27, 2020
Eagle Eye has raised $40 million aiming to "reinvent video...
Hikvision Q3 2020 Global Revenue Rises, US Revenue Falls on Oct 27, 2020
While Hikvision's global revenue rises driven by domestic recovery, its US...
VICE Investigates Verkada's Harassing "RawVerkadawgz" on Oct 26, 2020
This month, IPVM investigated Verkada's sexism, discrimination, and cultural...
Six Flags' FDA Violating Outdoor Dahua Fever Cameras on Oct 26, 2020
As Six Flags scrambled to reopen parks amid plummeting revenues caused by the...
ISC Brasil Digital Experience 2020 Report on Oct 23, 2020
ISC Brasil 2020 rebranded itself to ISC Digital Experience and, like its...
Top Video Surveillance Service Call Problems 2020 on Oct 23, 2020
3 primary and 4 secondary issues stood out as causing the most problems when...
GDPR Impact On Temperature / Fever Screening Explained on Oct 22, 2020
What impact does GDPR have on temperature screening? Do you risk a GDPR fine...
Security And Safety Things (S&ST) Tested on Oct 22, 2020
S&ST, a Bosch spinout, is spending tens of millions of dollars aiming to...
Nokia Fever Screening Claims To "Advance Fight Against COVID-19" on Oct 22, 2020
First IBM, then briefly Clorox, and now Nokia becomes the latest Fortune 500...
Deceptive Meridian Temperature Tablets Endanger Public Safety on Oct 21, 2020
IPVM's testing of and investigation into Meridian Kiosk's temperature...
Honeywell 30 Series and Vivotek NVRs Tested on Oct 21, 2020
The NDAA ban has driven many users to look for low-cost NVRs not made by...
Ubiquiti Access Control Tested on Oct 21, 2020
Ubiquiti has become one of the most widely used wireless and switch providers...
Avigilon Aggressive Trade-In Program Takes Aim At Competitors on Oct 20, 2020
Avigilon has launched one of the most aggressive trade-in programs the video...
Mexico Video Surveillance Market Overview 2020 on Oct 20, 2020
Despite being neighbors, there are key differences between the U.S. and...