Why stores have surveillance cameras

by Walter Olson on October 23, 2008


It only takes a couple of incidents like these for the system to pay for itself, and that’s aside from the anti-shoplifting benefits.

{ 18 comments }

1 Matt H. 10.23.08 at 1:52 pm

I don’t see your point. She goes back down the aisle after discovering the slippery spot. To notify management? To look for something on a shelf she thinks she missed? Then, returning to the spot she misjudges her footing and slips and falls. The fall looks genuine. She seems more likely stupid than planning a slip and fall fraud. Do you have evidence we lack? Multimillion dollar soft tissue injury claim? If I were her attorney, I think I’d find that tape useful to my case rather than the opposite.

2 Todd Rogers 10.23.08 at 2:10 pm

If I was on a jury and was shown this tape – regardless of the arguments, testimony, nice-lady-looking outfit, etc…I think I know which way I would vote.

3 Deb 10.23.08 at 2:13 pm

Matt H is just the juror they are looking for. The local market in my neighborhood installed thick rubber pads in all the aisles. Progress? Maybe so, but someone paid for it and that person is the customer.

4 David 10.23.08 at 2:13 pm

Matt H. is joking right?

5 Benji 10.23.08 at 2:22 pm

@Matt H.: You think that a slip-and-fall scam is LESS likely than the woman almost slipping on a marked slippery spot, going back down the aisle for no apparent reason (she doesn’t notify anyone and doesn’t seem terribly interested in the shelves she’s walking by), changes her mind and goes back down the aisle, and forgets about the slippery spot that she almost tripped on just 33 seconds ago even though there was ample room to step around it and the five people she was with all managed to do just that?

6 Matt H. 10.23.08 at 4:08 pm

I stand by my comment. The tape is not unequivocal evidence of intent to defraud. That is not the same as saying I know her motives were innocent.

7 Frank N. Stein 10.23.08 at 5:17 pm

Matt H is why I hate lawyers.

8 Bumper 10.23.08 at 5:46 pm

Hate is such a strong word. Matt H is just calling it like he sees it. Truth is this is an “it depends” situation, if this store is inner city the store would settle it as quickly as possible. Suburbia and the faller would be lucky to avoid getting charged with fraud. In some parts of Mississippi the faller would probably be charged with blocking a public right of way and littering. ;-)

9 L Nettles 10.23.08 at 5:59 pm

Matt has suggested the Goldfish Gambit.

Supposedly a goldfish has a 3 second memory.

10 David Wisniewski 10.23.08 at 8:40 pm

I’m in agreement with Matt H. From the tape, I don’t see any sign of fraud – the slip & fall looks genuine.

Yes, I am an attorney. No. I don’t do any PI work.

11 Walter Olson 10.23.08 at 8:54 pm

Whether or not the slip was intentional, I’d think the video would tend to establish that the woman had been put on notice of the spill by having encountered it in the aisle the minute before. Wouldn’t that tend to undercut her chances of prevailing?

12 John Burgess 10.23.08 at 10:55 pm

Walter: In a world in which the concept of ‘personal responsibility’ had any validity, your argument would prevail. But, as this world does not have that concept, apparently on any operational level in the courts, I suspect your argument would fail.

BTW, I’m supplementing my retirement income in Florida by offering ‘slip & fall’ tutorials to the elderly. Want to get in on a piece of the action?

Better hurry, though, ‘cuz you’ll have steep competition from the lawyers who, it seems, will soon be time limited on the mesothelioma claims.

13 Jason Barney 10.23.08 at 11:14 pm

The woman appears absent-minded to me more than a fraudster. I can’t see how she is any less negligent than the store though–if they were even negligent at all (did they or should they have known about the hazard?)

Parked near where she fell is a dolly and a sandwich board sign (wet floor??) Was there recent work in the aisle or a spill incompletely cleaned up? Did a store employee create the condition?

However, you cut it I wouldn’t award her any money since she knew about the hazard and was at the very least careless on her return down the aisle.

14 SPQR 10.24.08 at 12:27 am

I defended a slip and fall claim at a convenience store with a surveillance tape where you can see the confederate walk by a barrel of ice, flick out a handful and his following soon-to-be plaintiff buddy fake a fall in front of the barrel.

With this video tape, I’d have a defense verdict after about a 10 minute deliberation.

15 Jason Barney 10.24.08 at 2:48 am

That’s a good example, SPQR. I investigated a claim by a customer against a thrift store that involved an employee that allegedly knocked a lamp off a shelf onto a customer’s head. She was (we were led to believe) knocked out. And, it was all caught on video tape.

The rub is that upon close examination of the security tape was that after the lamp was knocked off and “hit” (it was not entirely clear) the customer the employee immediately went to summon help, without first checking on the injured customer. Something seemed off.

I interviewed the manager that responded to the scene who said she thought it was odd that the customer was serenely laying there on the floor “knocked out” but all the while laying neatly on the carpet she had earlier selected to purchase and had apparently just so happened to lay out before being “hit” by the lamp. She wasn’t splayed out on the floor after being hit–she was lying on the carpet as if not to get her clothes dirty.

Something wasn’t right.

The employee who “accidentally” knocked the lamp from the shelf couldn’t explain how the customer was hit in the head while the customer was behind him, laying out the carpet. His story was that she wanted to compare the colors of the lamp and carpet to see if they complimented each other.

On a hunch, I asked the thrift store to pull the employee’s employee application. Guess who was listed as the employee’s reference and emergency contact? None other than the customer/claimant.

Obviously, they were in cahoots and staged the “accident” in front of the known store security camera.

Premises liability insurance fraud is–I don’t know if “rampant” is the right word–but certainly significant.

16 Eric Turkewitz 10.28.08 at 10:28 pm

Whether or not the slip was intentional, I’d think the video would tend to establish that the woman had been put on notice of the spill by having encountered it in the aisle the minute before. Wouldn’t that tend to undercut her chances of prevailing?

In NY, that would go to comparative negligence. Assuming that there was a lawsuit and an injury as a result a jury might well find her 100% at fault. Or 50-50 or anything else, depending on the substance on the floor (a clear wax or oil may be barely visible, even if you are looking, as compared to something with color) and other facts from witnesses. Different states have different rules on whether claimants can recover if they are partially at fault.

By the way, was there an injury? A claim or lawsuit? Your post doesn’t say. I find it odd anyone would jump to the conclusion of fraud without knowing if a claim was made.

17 Minnesota Bob 10.28.08 at 11:22 pm

On the other side of the two-wheeler there appears to be a placard. If it’s like most that one sees on a store floor it likely says something like “Caution- Wet Floor.” I’d say any claim in this case is toast.

18 catastrophy 10.29.08 at 4:36 pm

that was just silly, she was heading directly for the slippery spot as soon as she began walking back, If she has kept going that direction then she would have walked directly into the dolly, Yes the fall was real but the reason that was fell was not. defently a set up, she was looking for a quick payoff.

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