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Central station operators and subscriber notifications / comments on ADT / booth meetings at ISC 
March 29, 2019
Notice:  ISC West.  Private meeting times are booked.  Concierge Clients should call our  Concierge Program Coordinator Stacy Spector,Esq at 516 747 6700 x 304 to arrange a private meeting and consultation. 
Open Meet and greet schedule at ISC:
Wednesday 11:00 am – COPS booth ; 2:30 pm – Avant guard booth; 3:30 pm – All American Monitoring booth
Thursday 11:00 am – Rapid booth;  2:30 pm – J. Krug booth  
Central station operators and subscriber notifications
    ADT followed industry-standard procedures, based on UL standards. They notified law enforcement and a key-holder. Any reasonable person responding to an intrusion alarm, who observed broken glass would seek a safe location and call 911 to escalate the event from an intrusion alarm to an actual break-in. 
    Let’s suppose ADT dispatched the key-holder to a fire alarm, as you suggest. He pulls up, and observes smoke billowing out of the roof. The key-holder remains in his car, parked adjacent to the burning building and doesn’t call 911 to report an actual fire. Just then, a giant fireball flashes off of the roof of the building, setting his car ablaze, causing injury.
    Just like the incredible ball of fire, the mugging had nothing to do with the break-in. Common sense isn’t so common, wrong place, wrong time. The reason why coffee cups warn us the beverage we are about to enjoy is hot. That simple.
    You mention a 2011 case in which Monitronics paid $9 Million, the verdict upheld on appeal, because there was evidence of willful and wanton behavior that was demonstrated on behalf of the central station, their subscriber was beaten and raped after she returned to her home all the while and unbeknown to her there had been multiple door and motion sensor intrusion alarm zones that had repeatedly triggered earlier in the day. That said, due to “protocol” the central station does not speak to a subscriber if an auto-attendant picks up the phone. In other words, the subscriber was never warned of the alarms and when the subscriber came home and somehow thought that she had triggered the alarm, which in actuality was the intruder, the central station operator provided her with inference and not fact, which she relied on when she went into the home only to find out later that the intruder was in the bathroom shower with a knife. You’ve written about this case. Here’s an example of the tragic result of bad procedures, lack of standards and reliance on an operator’s judgment instead of solid policies and procedures.
    Years ago, a very well-known Hollywood director with an estate in the Hamptons had a carbon monoxide alarm activation at 3:00 A.M. Our central station operator, a long-time employee and a seasoned professional, called the premises. The customer was very upset, cursing and screaming, complaining about how the alarm didn’t work. It seems, the fire alarm went off a few weeks earlier after someone left food in the oven and it started to burn.
    The operator convinced the customer to get out of bed and walk the expansive home. All the while, still ranting about his sleep being disturbed. The recording of the call is in my top-ten.     Minutes one through six are filled with expletives, the operator politely listening, coaching the customer to keep checking the house. At seven minutes in, the celebrity goes quiet. A door squeaks open, then you hear the sound of a car engine running. It gets louder. Car door opens, engine shuts, ding, ding, ding, ding.       Then the car door slams shut. “Thanks.” SOP at the time was call and get a passcode. Would we have been sued if someone was hurt or killed?
    Now, we send the fire department to all carbon monoxide alarms, call the premises and tell occupants to evacuate and await the fire department. Many fire departments don’t respond with lights and sirens to carbon monoxide alarms - by the way, this increases response time. What if a customer follows our instructions and gets frostbite because they didn’t put on shoes?
    Nationally Recognized Forensic Expert Jeffrey Zwirn, who was the Plaintiffs Alarm Expert in the Monitronics case and testified at trial and I will be presenting a SIA education session at ISC West (April 9th 10:15 A.M. - 11:15 A.M.): “What Happened to Standards-Based Security? What Security Directors, Managers, Owners and Insurance Underwriters Need to Know.” There’s much more to best practices than how a central station notifies a customer. We encourage your readers who will be at ISC to attend.
Peter Goldring
    Thanks for your information and good luck with your presentation. You and Jeff certainly have lots to offer.
comments on ADT
    I figured out what ADT stands for: “Another Damn Trial”. See you in Vegas! 
    I think it’s a matter of percentages. ADT most likely has its percentage of claims and lawsuits. We may see more reported cases because ADT is very aggressive with its defense strategy, and that helps the entire industry. But what you should be thinking about is that your ticket is coming. Unfortunately getting hit with a lawsuit is not as remote as getting hit with lightening or winning the lottery. It’s likely to happen in the course of your business career. Your best defense is to use the Standard Form Agreements and carrying E&O insurance coverage. Use the carriers and brokers in The Alarm Exchange under the insurance category.

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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