Have you written an article on the liability exposure of security cameras in hotels?  One of my clients feels that hotel cameras bring on more liability.  I disagree.  Your thoughts?
    I suppose a good argument can be made for both positions, as long as there is no statute that requires camera installations.  If no statute requires cameras then there should be a clear objective to the installation and service. In other words, are the cameras intended to: 

  • keep track of the physical premises, the building, 
  • designed to monitor those coming and going, 
  • monitor particularly vulnerable areas in the building, like the laundry room and garage, 
  • be visible and have signs conveying the message that the premises are monitored and secure,
  • is the building owner installing cameras to protect its property or its tenants and visitors,
  • does the building hold itself out as a secure environment,
  • would those lawfully on the property have a reasonable expectation that the cameras provided immediate protection from unlawful activity.

    Some property owners should have cameras and take other protective measures to protect those lawfully on their premises.  Property owners in high crime areas, especially where there has been criminal activity on the property, are under a duty to provide reasonable protection to those on the premises.  Hospitals and hotels have a particular obligation to provide protection to those lawfully on the premises.  As the level of responsibility to keep those on the premises free of harm increases, the level of the security measures that need to be employed increases.  The level of responsibility should be, and is, measured by what is reasonable under the circumstances.  While camera systems may have been a luxury in the past and beyond the reasonable budget of property owners, the cost of cameras and video surveillance services is now an expected, if not necessary, component of property electronic security systems.  
    So, my opinion, install cameras and do it right.  By the way, the property contract to use is the Commercial All in One.  That covers all camera and video applications.  Be sure to back yourself up with the Disclaimer Notice.
    I am a little confused by the listing of the contractor number…our business has one number, and I as the RME have another.  Shouldn’t we be using the contractor license of the business on our contracts/literature? 
    I asked our License counsel to respond:
    Yes, that is correct Ken, it must be the contracting company’s license number on the contract, and not the RME’s as per Hawaii Admin. Rule §16-77-8, which requires contractors to provide their name, address, license number and classification(s) to homeowners via a written contract.  “Contractor” refers to the entity doing business, and not the RME.

Best regards,
Nicoletta Lakatos, Esq.
Kirschenbaum & Kirschenbaum P C
tel: 516-747-6700 ext 311