So the police did not do their job and yet the central gets blamed for it.
our company closed down specifically because of this non sense...
but luckily the laws in canada are not the same
but sometimes they are not any better!
When it rains it pours. So many things were done wrong in the Monitronics case, I wouldn't know where to start to lay blame. First, you can get a "swinger" that would cause multiple false alarms for one zone. But when you have more than one internal motion detector trip, and then subsequent internal doors being opened and closed, you have an intruder. The police should have been made aware of that. As much as many of the larger police departments today view home security systems as a nuisance, they still have a duty to act (respond and check the place out.) Had they been made aware of the multiple zone trips, I think they would likely have checked the home a little more closely.
Secondly, any alarm installer/salesman worth his or her salt will go over some crime prevention practices with a customer. The first thing I tell my customers, if they return home and their alarm has sounded for any reason, CALL THE POLICE and have an officer check out the house. The second thing I tell them, is if they come home and they find ANYTHING out of place, GET THE HELL OUT OF THE HOUSE and call the police from your cell phone or a neighbor's house.
Third, (and I think almost all alarm companies have been guilty of this at one time or another,) this case shows why it is so imperative to have the correct emergency contact numbers on file at the central station. Just telling the customer to contact you if any contact names or numbers change won't get you off the hook. I have instituted a practice of listing the names and numbers of emergency contacts on my invoices when I do my billing (for annual renewals.) I request the customer check the names and numbers for accuracy and then sign off on it.
Lastly, does the Veasley woman (the victim) have brain damage? She notices that it looks like someone disturbed her bed and the intruder left a tequila bottle and cell phone next to it and she wasn't suspicious enough to call the PD at that point? Is her nickname Goldilocks, and does she live with three bears? I'm not saying she deserved to be robbed or raped, but she either has zero common sense or has crap for brains. I would think that just on the weight of her own stupidity, the Georgia Supreme Court will or should likely reverse the lower courts decision.
Decisions like this are disturbing. They are bad for the whole industry. For a small alarm company like mine, that award would way exceed the limits of my insurance policy. On top of that, if the courts will no longer recognize the exculpatory clause, why do we need contracts and insurance? An award that even comes close to my policy limits would likely put me out of business, as I'm sure I would be many thousands of dollars out of pocket. This needs to get fixed, and fast. I have been using your contracts for over way over ten years, and I do believe they afford my company the intended protection. I guess it gets back to one of the things that I always say: "You can't even legislate common sense." The victim in this case had none.
John from NJ
Can't anyone else here see the problem is also the policy of the police?
Scary. A little bit of an overkill…..
Great training opportunity.
Central station "operators" should not be giving out technical advice on how an alarm system operates -- That is the job of the servicing company.
I own a national monitoring station and feel Monitronics got a really bad deal. Why aren’t the police culpable for refusing to respond if that was the case. Alarm ordinances can lead to this type of thing where the public isn’t protected. A fire dept. in California did not respond to a fire alarm call from a monitoring station from I believe the state of Ill. and yet they hung it on the monitoring station with the fire dept. being excluded from responsibility after ignoring a fire call that involved death. You may recall that one as well. I was brought into a much smaller situation than this that I should have never been part of, It took a year for me to be exonerated in spite of my protests and your right it is not enjoyable.
The Ins companies hire attorney’s who know very little about our business, we have to educate them and they seem intent on discovery and not the contract or other mitigating circumstances.
This brings me to my point. Monitronics and anyone else that gets caught up in a lawsuit should have competent representation by an attorney that works for the alarm industry. I have a good Ins. company yet it seemed to me they simply relied on the attorney they hired who knew nothing of the alarm business.
If I ever found myself in a situation again I would call you immediately for co-counsel and I recommend that to others also. Ken, perhaps CSAA of which I am a member or yourself should be advising alarm dealers to call you as you are by your Monitronics email.. I feel they tried to do their job but got a raw deal and this could happen to any of us. Ken, you provide a good service and give good advice so I say if you find yourself in a pickle, contact Ken for some advice, I know I will if the unfortunate ever came my way again. The contract should always be defended first. Hopefully the Georgia Supreme Court will make this right for Monitronics and perhaps give a few words regarding no response attitudes regardless who it is.
All American Monitoring
I have a few thoughts - and remember I am an outsider to the defense "team" that handled the Monitronics case. In hindsight it's little easier to see the problems. But here there are some very serious issues, and every one of you should take notice that you could be next. And by the way, even if you can afford to pay a multi million dollar judgment I suggest you order the Standard All in One contracts that you need before you even finish reading this article.
Judges are loath to to enforce the exculpatory and limitation of liability clauses in the alarm contracts. You need to keep that in mind when you "settle" on a contract. Your contract needs to be air tight when it comes to the protective provisions. Think about it this way. A judge on your case decides almost from the start that he wants to find some way to hold you liable for the horrible loss suffered by the subscriber - so he knows he needs to find a way around the exculpatory clause. His legal research of the issue quickly tells him that the provisions are legal and enforceable. That's when the judge tells his clerks - "find me a way to get around this contract !!". As you can see from the dissenting opinion in the Monitronics case, enforcing the limitation of liability clause takes only a short paragraph. Now look at the lengthy reasoning of the majority and concurring opinions. Hard for an alarm company owner to accept the reasoning - but here's the thing, the contract stinks. It could have been and should have been worded differently. It should be the Standard Form Contract. The installation was in 2006. I wrote a better contract in 1980.
Next, [and I wasn't at the trial - and wasn't asked to be there either], where is this "expert" testimony coming from regarding the operators conversation with the subscriber? I didn't see any mention in the decision about Monitronics policies on operator procedure. And what if the operator talked too much? Talking too much was "outside" the contractual monitoring duties? It was "extra contract"?
I think we should have a Webinar on central station procedures. Just what should an operator say to a subscriber? A few scenarios come to mind:
Operator: We received a burglar alarm signal, is every thing all right or should I call the police and what's your code?
Sub: Everything is fine, don't call, and my code is xyz. - obviously the operator should just say goodbye
Sub: I'm not sure, I'm in my bedroom, what should I do? OK, now the operator has lots of ways to respond. Stick to the script and just say, do you want me to call police or not? or, why don't you take a walk around your house [and see if someone kills you]. or, would you like me to hold on while you check things out [and hopefully no one is there to harm you], or, It's raining out and its probably nothing [and I'm too busy with all these false alarms to spent another second with you].
You get the idea. It's hard to come up with a script that envisions every single situation unless you have a strict call or don't call policy with no time for chit chat. Good topic for central stations- contact me today if you want to be a presenter on this webinar.