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Lawsuits against Retailers: The Expert's Role

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  • Lawsuits against Retailers: The Expert's Role

    The following article appeared in most recent issue of LP Magazine and I thought I would share. Charles Sennewald is the most recognized Security Expert Witness in the Country.

    Lawsuits against Retailers: The Expert's Role

    Written by Charles “Chuck” Sennewald, CSC, CPP, CPO

    Contemporary loss prevention policies and procedures is a direct consequence of the so-called “litigation explosion” that dates back to the early to mid-1980s. Time was when a head-long pursuit through the parking lot and across heavily-trafficked public roadways was a way of life. To many it was exhilarating and the resultant capture of a shoplifter was rewarding.


    However, I recall with clarity the case of two teenage brothers who were pursued by supermarket employees for the theft of a couple of candy bars and a 16 oz. can of beer. The two were struck and killed by an auto in the middle lanes of a nearby freeway. The subsequent lawsuit was punishing. It’s fair to identify that very case as the beginning of the end of hot pursuits in the retail industry.


    Subsequently, other practices, heretofore invoking mild reprimands, became socially and legally unacceptable and everyday practices, such as wrestling a suspect to the ground and gaining control with an arm-lock, became suspect, again, magnified by lawsuits. Shoplifters died, invariably followed by a lawsuit resulting in the awarding of damages. Awards sent corporate policymakers, guided by their own legal counsel, back to the drawing boards.


    Read the entire article here.....
    Retail Security Consultant / Expert Witness
    Co-Author - Effective Security Management 6th Edition

    Contributor to Retail Crime, Security and Loss Prevention: An Encyclopedic Reference

  • #2
    Excellent read, and what a nightmare that internal investigation was.
    Sergeant Phil Esterhaus: "Hey, let's be careful out there.."

    THE VIEWS EXPRESSED ON THIS WEBSITE/BLOG ARE MINE ALONE AND DO NOT NECESSARILY REFLECT THE VIEWS OF MY EMPLOYER.

    Comment


    • #3
      Yeah LPs have to be properly trained to not cause serious injury or death when detaining someone. As for the two boys who were killed in the road accident, I'm not familiar with the case, but how could the store be sued when it was the boys that ran into traffic?

      Comment


      • #4
        Because the LP chase caused them to run into traffic. No chase, no deaths, just lost product.

        Comment


        • #5
          Originally posted by Soper View Post
          Because the LP chase caused them to run into traffic. No chase, no deaths, just lost product.
          Although, Merchant Detention statutes allow for it. I just needs to be "reasonable".
          Retail Security Consultant / Expert Witness
          Co-Author - Effective Security Management 6th Edition

          Contributor to Retail Crime, Security and Loss Prevention: An Encyclopedic Reference

          Comment


          • #6
            Originally posted by Soper View Post
            Because the LP chase caused them to run into traffic. No chase, no deaths, just lost product.
            It was their fault for running. If they had just surrendered to the employees, or better yet chosen not to steal in the first place, this wouldn't have happened. The store employees had every right to recover their merchandise, the two teens had no right to run away.

            Comment


            • #7
              You are making an assumption that the cost of the items lost was worth the risks of a foot chase OFF the property. This is akin to the use of OC spray on a non violent trespasser or using deadly force to stop a theft suspect.

              If you create an exigent circumstance, be prepared for the fall out.

              Comment


              • #8
                Sometimes it's better to let them go. Sometimes it makes sense to pursue, as someone whose been involved in foot pursuits always follow policy. Those policies are in place because of situations like this.
                Sergeant Phil Esterhaus: "Hey, let's be careful out there.."

                THE VIEWS EXPRESSED ON THIS WEBSITE/BLOG ARE MINE ALONE AND DO NOT NECESSARILY REFLECT THE VIEWS OF MY EMPLOYER.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by Soper View Post
                  You are making an assumption that the cost of the items lost was worth the risks of a foot chase OFF the property. This is akin to the use of OC spray on a non violent trespasser or using deadly force to stop a theft suspect.

                  If you create an exigent circumstance, be prepared for the fall out.
                  There should never be a pursuit off property. There are recognized industry guidelines covering this.
                  Retail Security Consultant / Expert Witness
                  Co-Author - Effective Security Management 6th Edition

                  Contributor to Retail Crime, Security and Loss Prevention: An Encyclopedic Reference

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by ContractSec Level III View Post
                    It was their fault for running. If they had just surrendered to the employees, or better yet chosen not to steal in the first place, this wouldn't have happened. The store employees had every right to recover their merchandise, the two teens had no right to run away.
                    Within reason.......
                    Retail Security Consultant / Expert Witness
                    Co-Author - Effective Security Management 6th Edition

                    Contributor to Retail Crime, Security and Loss Prevention: An Encyclopedic Reference

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Curtis,

                      THAt seems to be the crux of the issue: within reason escapes quite a few security guards these days...

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        What if the employee acts so 'aggressively' that the 'shopper' runs out of reasonable fear and gets hurt in process?

                        Lets remember that the whole 'recover merchandise' can be completely in error. In our supermarket we had a guy drinking out of beer can in meat dept, however he had been spotted walking into the store with the open can.

                        Personally, I think it might help if there were some universally known, legal "magic words", just so no confusion happens.

                        At the supermarket we also had a semi-psycho mall ninja guy who was telling everyone about the karate he could use on a shoplifter, till the manager had a private talk with him.

                        I was once in a position to 'unload' on a shoplifter running at me with his fist raised to strike me with two senior clerks in hot pursuit telling me to 'get him', but I just tripped him. Always the outside chance I completely misread the situation and they were just playing or something.

                        I knew a kid in HS who did a 'grab and go' heist of 12 pac from liquor store. The clerk yelled "I know who you are!" and the kid was afraid to go home for 2 days and was generally "a wreck" for about a month, just wondering if and when "they" were gonna get around to arresting him. Whole thing had an effect on whole school. Child psychology at its best.
                        Last edited by Squid; 01-04-2014, 12:27 AM.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by Squid View Post
                          What if the employee acts so 'aggressively' that the 'shopper' runs out of reasonable fear and gets hurt in process?

                          Lets remember that the whole 'recover merchandise' can be completely in error. In our supermarket we had a guy drinking out of beer can in meat dept, however he had been spotted walking into the store with the open can.

                          Personally, I think it might help if there were some universally known, legal "magic words", just so no confusion happens.

                          At the supermarket we also had a semi-psycho mall ninja guy who was telling everyone about the karate he could use on a shoplifter, till the manager had a private talk with him.

                          I was once in a position to 'unload' on a shoplifter running at me with his fist raised to strike me with two senior clerks in hot pursuit telling me to 'get him', but I just tripped him. Always the outside chance I completely misread the situation and they were just playing or something.

                          I knew a kid in HS who did a 'grab and go' heist of 12 pac from liquor store. The clerk yelled "I know who you are!" and the kid was afraid to go home for 2 days and was generally "a wreck" for about a month, just wondering if and when "they" were gonna get around to arresting him. Whole thing had an effect on whole school. Child psychology at its best.
                          I tried to comprehend this post and underatand where you were going...once again face palm
                          Sergeant Phil Esterhaus: "Hey, let's be careful out there.."

                          THE VIEWS EXPRESSED ON THIS WEBSITE/BLOG ARE MINE ALONE AND DO NOT NECESSARILY REFLECT THE VIEWS OF MY EMPLOYER.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by Squid View Post
                            What if the employee acts so 'aggressively' that the 'shopper' runs out of reasonable fear and gets hurt in process? I wouldn't try that one it court.

                            Lets remember that the whole 'recover merchandise' can be completely in error. In our supermarket we had a guy drinking out of beer can in meat dept, however he had been spotted walking into the store with the open can. In the Retail Security industry that's called a "bad stop". Someone didn't follow all their elements.

                            Personally, I think it might help if there were some universally known, legal "magic words", just so no confusion happens. What are you talking about?

                            At the supermarket we also had a semi-psycho mall ninja guy who was telling everyone about the karate he could use on a shoplifter, till the manager had a private talk with him. Good for the manager.

                            I was once in a position to 'unload' on a shoplifter running at me with his fist raised to strike me with two senior clerks in hot pursuit telling me to 'get him', but I just tripped him. Always the outside chance I completely misread the situation and they were just playing or something.

                            I knew a kid in HS who did a 'grab and go' heist of 12 pac from liquor store. The clerk yelled "I know who you are!" and the kid was afraid to go home for 2 days and was generally "a wreck" for about a month, just wondering if and when "they" were gonna get around to arresting him. Whole thing had an effect on whole school. Child psychology at its best.
                            I just don't know what to say about most of what you wrote..
                            Retail Security Consultant / Expert Witness
                            Co-Author - Effective Security Management 6th Edition

                            Contributor to Retail Crime, Security and Loss Prevention: An Encyclopedic Reference

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by Soper View Post
                              You are making an assumption that the cost of the items lost was worth the risks of a foot chase OFF the property. This is akin to the use of OC spray on a non violent trespasser or using deadly force to stop a theft suspect.

                              If you create an exigent circumstance, be prepared for the fall out.
                              True it's not worth the risks. But the store shouldn't be liable for any stupid actions of the perps. You are making an assumption that the jail time you could spend for petty theft, is worth the risk of getting run over.

                              Comment

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