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Comment on cameras in bedrooms / Can you contract for punitive damages / webinar announcement
February 5, 2021
Webinar announcement: Register now for this informative webinar
Title:  Forensic Analysis of Non-Conforming Control Panel(s); the UL issue
When:  February 16, 2021 at 12 PM noon ET  1 hour.  Will be recorded
Topic:  Analysis of risk if using control panels that don't meet UL and NFPA standards
Presented by:  Jeffrey Zwirn and  Merton Bunker, PE former NFPA employee and Staff Liaison for NFPA 72
Hosted by: Ken Kirschenbaum,Esq
Who should attend:  Alarm company owners, AHJs, Nationally Recognized Testing Laboratories and manufacturers

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Comment on cameras in bedrooms from article on January 28, 2021
            Re:  cameras in bedrooms from article on January 28, 2021.
            To be honest with you we could see this kind of liability coming. Even if a technician didn’t do this sort of nefarious eavesdropping I think it exposes our industry to litigation on the basis of ‘right to privacy’.
            We make a point NOT to install or sell cameras that go inside a home, period.   We feel that it’s not worth the exposure. 
            We were asked several years ago by a Middle Eastern diplomat from an oil rich country to install cameras in bathrooms, etc. 
He basically offered us a ‘blank check’ and we told him NO. 
Professional installers, consider yourself warned.  Is any camera job worth your entire company?
            You are correct to be careful that you don’t install cameras in places prohibited by law or even the slightest sense of morality.  Bathrooms definitely qualify for the “Do Not Install” list; probably bedrooms too.  But there can be legitimate reasons to install cameras in bedrooms, perhaps in even in a bathroom under the most extraordinary circumstances.  I think a position of no cameras in the house is too restrictive a policy.
            The ADT employee was at it for some time and affected a large number of customers.  While one bad apple can ruin the barrel I don’t think the alarm industry needs to write off the cameras, even in houses.  Make sure you use the Standard Form Agreements for your contractual protection.  Make sure you follow your state’s requirements for hiring and screening employees.  An instruction sheet to your subscribers is also a good idea and it should include warnings about anyone other than the subscriber having access to passwords for remote viewing.
Can you contract for punitive damages?
            Can we put something in the contract requiring punitive damages in the event that someone issues a charge back? And if punitive damages cannot be awarded for whatever reason can we put an agreed amount, like $10,000 fee, for issuing a chargeback per offence?
            Couple of reasons for my thinking on this.  When someone issues a charge back it freezes up our funds.  It’s already a direct breach of our contract but I think we should get awarded something for the bullshit that goes along with it.
            It’s annoying to say the least when a check bounces, a credit card is not approved or a customer challenges a credit card charge that did get processed.  Plenty of consumer contracts provide for a charge for a bounced check, which is different than a challenge to a credit card charge.  The credit card challenge is a customer who is complaining to the credit card company and the credit card company is going to act in the capacity of arbiter of the dispute, at least to the extent of deciding whether to issue the refund.  A ruling adverse to you leaves you with a breach of contract action against your customer, nothing more.
            A bounced check may cause you expense from your bank, but also leaves you with a breach of contract as well as the additional damage for the bank charge.  You can provide a modest charge for a bounced check.  You can provide a modest charge for a late payment.  These provisions are not found in the Standard Form Agreements.  Why not?  Because we have more than enough provisions that need to be in a properly drafted alarm – security – fire – PERS – fire protection – contract.  The remedy I think is appropriate is calling the contract in default.  That will require immediate payment of whatever is owed to date and 80% of the balance of the recurring charges to be paid [80% of value of equipment you own too], plus legal.  You want the additional $15?  Sure, add it yourself but make sure you don’t violate your state’s laws, which you will, by the way, if you call it a “penalty”.

NOTICE:  K&K has two clients looking to sell alarm accounts.  One company is near Orlando FL and the other outskirts of Miami FL.  More details in The Alarm Exchange in the Merger and Acquisition 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