Store Security Civil Lawsuits

Lawsuits against store security often happen because of the detainment of a person suspected of committing or attempting to engage in shoplifting. The acts that the owner or the security officer engages in these situations are what the person will sue for, and he or she may seek damages for injury or defamation.

Rights of the Store Security Guard

In standard circumstances, the laws of the state grant greater ability for store security guards to perform acts that enable them to prevent theft and stop store losses with various types of assets. However, these actions must remain reasonable and in accordance with the state laws such as detention of the individual suspected of shoplifting or other crimes. If the security guard violates the basic rights of an individual, this could start the first stage of a lawsuit. Reasonable acts of the guards may vary based on the state and the individual laws in place.

Reasonable Acts of the Guard

Monitoring customers that are in the shop, using cameras and acting as an undercover employee are all reasonable acts and fall within most state laws. Reasonable force is necessary to stop a person that appears to steal or flee from the store with stolen items. Additionally, the security guard can usually detain a person if he or she is a suspect of shoplifting. This generally entails watching the person constantly to ensure he or she does not leave the guard’s sight. Video surveillance can also provide the professional with a view and recording of the criminal activity in action.

Inappropriate Behavior

Many security store lawsuits occur because the guard on duty acted inappropriately in some way. This could involve the actual touching of the security guard on the person of the suspect or by handling this person in an improper manner. Some lawsuits arise because of injury during the apprehension for the detention of someone suspected of committing shoplifting. If the shop is unable to stop such actions or knows that a security guard may act incorrectly during these situations, the store could also face liability concerns in a lawsuit. Then, the store will need a lawyer to defend against litigation.

Reasonable Force

The primary reason most lawsuits start is because of injury. A person suspected of shoplifting could face either the store owner or a security guard that uses reasonable force to detain the individual. However, many instances of detention in this manner involve excessive force. This could include too much manhandling, too strong a grip or using a weapon of some kind to apprehend the person. Using a taser or even a stun gun could lead to injury with improper training. Excessive measures are outside of reasonable force, and a lawsuit is normally valid with these actions.

Inability to Approach

There are some states that do not let the owner or store security to approach a person unless there are visible signs of concealment of merchandise. The person may remain free from possible detainment until leaving the store. If there is no concealment that the owner or guard see, after the individual is outside, then it is possible to approach and question or stop the person from leaving further. In these states, it is important to follow all other laws or face a lawsuit. Litigation can occur if the person is not able to leave the store without detainment and there is no visible concealment of anything.

Probable Cause

Store security lawsuits arise when there is little to no probable cause. Because detaining and accosting the person as a suspect of shoplifting can cause harm to the person’s reputation, it is important to have probable cause or reasonable suspicion that an item is under concealment on the other individual. This can lead to detaining the person until local law enforcement arrives. If the security guard detains the person for too long or in some manner that violates personal dignity or rights, a lawsuit also possible. Many suits arise because of the actions of the security guard or owner in this instance of suspicion. The suspect must still retain his or her rights to limit liability and possible litigation against the store.

Legal Support for Security Problems

When a person faces detainment in the store or with a security guard, it is important to hire a lawyer if his or her rights are in violation. Injury and harm caused during this process can hold the store or guard liable for damages when the individual hires a lawyer to pursue a legal remedy.

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Disclaimer: Every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of this publication at the time it was written. It is not intended to provide legal advice or suggest a guaranteed outcome as individual situations will differ and the law may have changed since publication. Readers considering legal action should consult with an experienced lawyer to understand current laws they may affect a case.

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