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comments on ADT case
December 5, 2018
comments on ADT case from article on November 26, 2018
   COMMENTS ON: ADT wins fire death case November 26, 2018
The facts are not flattering for ADT:
    "Sometime during the early morning hours of August 15, 2016, an accidental home fire from the kitchen stove began at decedent’s residence. Decedent’s home was equipped with a security system, which Defendant sold and monitored. At 1:30 a.m., Defendant received a "sensor tamper" alert for "glass break" in the dining room. Defendant did not call any individual or emergency service at that time. At 1:32 a.m., Defendant received an alert for "expansion module failure." The expansion module is the key pad and system center located by the front door of the home. Defendant did not call any individual or emergency services at that time. At approximately 1:43 a.m., Defendant twice attempted to call decedent, but was unable to reach her. At 1:49 a.m., Defendant then attempted to call the next call-back number, that of decedent’s grandmother, but was also unable to reach her. The caller identification label associated with Defendant’s number is an unlisted number and does not identify Defendant as the caller. Between 2:01 a.m. and 2:04 a.m., Defendant again attempted to call decedent’s number and the next call-back number. Defendant was again unable to reach either party. Around 2:04 a.m., Defendant "fully cleared" the alarms." 
     This raises some interesting points:
                     TYPE OF SIGNALS:
    The 1:30 and 1:32AM signals received by ADT were: "sensor tamper" and "expansion module failure" signals. These are not burglary, or fire, or other ALARM signals, and ADT likely followed its standard procedure for this type of supervisory/trouble signals, which appears to be a routine notification phone call attempt.
    "The caller identification label associated with Defendant’s number is an unlisted number and does not identify Defendant as the caller."
    Sounds like Caller-ID displayed ADT's phone number (but not name) to the grandmother, and grandmother elected not to answer her phone. Possibly the same happened to ADT's calls to decedent. Certainly not ADT's fault.
  Nick in California
    Thanks for sharing this. Alarms and trouble conditions require different responses from an Operator. If both the glass break detector and expansion module reported in as trouble conditions, the actions taken were according to industry standards. Keeping those terms clear makes a world of difference in how signals are programmed to report and how operators are paid to respond. 
Your #1 Fan
    I gather form reading your article this morning (ADT wins fire death case NOV 26, 2018) that Deceased did not have any monitored smoke detectors included in her burglar alarm system.      Please correct me if I am wrong. I read some system trouble signals were sent (probably) from equipment being exposed to fire. However, no smoke alarms or smoke trouble signals were sent. ---Just trouble signals for other equipment.--- Makes one think the Deceased purchased a BURGLAR alarm, Not a FIRE alarm. (Or purchased the home that way.) 
In my sales experience (with ADT) in the past, I once had a customer living in the woods. All they were worried about was burglary. They heated their 2 story A-frame with 2 wood stoves.        They both smoked like fiends. They left both their rambunctious dogs in the house when gone. Although friendly, they swang their tales and knocked stuff off tables, jumped on furniture, raced and chased each other around, etc. I couldn't believe how stupid they were when they told me they had decommissioned their built-in smoke detectors because "Opening and closing the wood stoves makes them go off all the time." Of course I was concerned and I highly recommended adding 2 carefully positioned wireless monitored smoke detectors (one on each floor) but they refused all my logic. Fearing a problem down the road, I wrote (in the notes section) on the back side of the contract: Customer refuses to purchase monitored smoke detectors, against recommendation. And they both signed it. I explained all this to my Manager at the time and he said 'EXCELLENT JOB!' 
    I'm curious now, had this been the case on the Decedents contract, would the Minor Plaintiff still have been able to bring forth a suit? As always, respectfully looking forward to your response. 
  Cynthia Hart, Retired Security Consultant
  Springfield, Oregon 
    According to the facts presented a burglar alarm system was installed; there is no mention of any fire alarm device. Note, however, that one of the statements on the website, mentioned by the judge, was that:
    "If the employee is unable to contact you, or if you confirm that the alarm is genuine, the authorities will be notified. A dispatch will then send police officers to your residence to evaluate the situation."
    Here the police were not notified when the operator could not confirm the alarm condition. I am not suggesting that this should support at claim of negligence or gross negligence against ADT, but that's what a plaintiff would hope for. Failure to comply with Alarm Response Policy is one of the more popular claims made against alarm companies. The argument here obviously was that had the police been dispatched on the first unconfirmed alarm signal the fire would have been discovered.
    The Plaintiff's lawyer should have started the action against ADT within a year of the fire. Now the best case for the Plaintiff may be a malpractice suit against the lawyers who delayed, though that would be difficult to win since the Plaintiff would have to show it would have prevailed in the lawsuit against ADT if the case had been commenced timely.  AS I mentioned, many other protective provisions were mentioned by the judge and any one of them might was been the bases to dismiss the lawsuit.
    You can read the lawsuit on our website under Alarm Law Issues, Leading cases state by state, Kansas, THE ESTATE OF ELIZABETH FROST, Plaintiffs, v. ADT, INC., F/K/A PROTECTION ONE, INC., Defendant. USDC, Kansas 11/19/2018

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Ken Kirschenbaum,Esq
Kirschenbaum & Kirschenbaum PC
Attorneys at Law
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