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Can yard signs and decals be prohibited / signs with protected v secured
June 5, 2019
Can yard signs and decals be prohibited
            I am surprised this issue hasn’t come up in the alarm industry.  Yard signs and decals.  The issues have always been the wording [see question below] but how about putting the property owner at risk for fines and violations for violating sign prohibitions?
            Many local municipalities [cities too] have ordinances restricting or prohibiting the number of signs, placement of signs, size of signs and even wording of signs; some laws would easily equate a decal as a sign.
            The City of Bel-Nor, Missouri has a 1 sign limit.  The City charged one of its residents with “multiple sign” violations.  Two of the signs supported local politicians [the wrong ones obviously] and one sign was Black Lives Matter.  The resident sued the City for an injunction prohibiting enforcement of the ordinance claiming violation of his right to free speech, protected by the US Constitution.  Notably the ordinance exempted 1 flag.
            The Federal District Court did recognize that municipalities do have a legitimate interest in restricting signs for aesthetic and traffic safety reasons, but that interest needs to be balanced against free speech.  The Court thought the ordinance was overly broad as worded and granted the injunction.  In its analysis the Court noted that the home owner offered examples of what the ordinance would apply to:
- “tacking up a ‘Welcome Home’ banner on the garage” (“No sign shall be affixed to any ... garage ...; [t]he following ... types of signs are prohibited ... any material that flutters”);
- “sticking an ADT Security window cling to the front window” (“[n]o sign shall be displayed from the interior of any window”);
- “displaying Christmas lights” (Ordinance 983 prohibits any “object.... used to attract attention to an ... event ... by any means, including ... colors,” and “[i]llumination in any manner is prohibited”);
- tying a “Happy Birthday” balloon to a front door on the day of a birthday party (“The following materials ... are prohibited ... [t]he use of balloons”).
            It might be prudent to check with all of the jurisdictions you work in to find out if there are laws affecting yard signs and decals.  The case is Willson v City of Bel-Nor, Missouri, US Court of Appeals, Eight Circuit.
wording Protected v Secured
            On the use of the word "Protected" vs "secured" have you heard of any successful lawsuits where a company had to pay a loss due to having the word "Protected" on their yard sign and decals?  How or does your All in One contracts protect a company from this?
  Name Withheld
            This has to go under the saying, “anybody and sue anybody for anything”.  You think the homeowner is misled because the sign or decal says protected?  Is protected really different than secured?  
            If you are dumb enough to install a security or fire alarm system without a contract and use either of these yard signs or decals, you are asking, begging, for a lawsuit.  Of course the All in One Agreements will protect you.  What I mean by protect is, the contract will be useful for your defense.  Probably more useful than the alarm system was.  I am thinking about trademarking the sign and decal, “Alarm System Installed – Might be Working”.   
            Don’t use language that would lead a reasonable person to have expectations well beyond what you intend when you install the alarm and provide on-going services.  The reason the sign and decal won’t matter if you use the Standard All in One Agreement is because the contract makes it clear beyond doubt that the alarm system is not intended to prevent anything, that it’s not infallible and that you will accept absolutely no liability for a loss if the alarm doesn’t work.  Put that on your sign and decal.
            BTW, I believe we updated the All in Ones to provide that signs and decals remain the property of the alarm company.  Now all we need to do is come up with an agreed value.

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Ken Kirschenbaum,Esq
Kirschenbaum & Kirschenbaum PC
Attorneys at Law
200 Garden City Plaza
Garden City, NY 11530
516 747 6700 x 301