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  • Movie theater chain sued for searching bags

    A movie theater chain in Montreal has been found guilty in being excessive when searching bags of people entering the theater. http://montreal.ctv.ca/servlet/an/lo...b=MontrealHome
    I enforce rules and regulations, not laws.
    Security Officers. The 1st First Responders.

  • #2
    Wow

    Let me start off by saying this:

    I tend to go to the movie theatre alot. I spend alot of money at the movie theatre. However,
    • "Julie Berthiaume was going to see Shrek the Third at the theatre in 2007 with her two daughters when a security guard insisted on searching their purses, pulling out personal items in front of everyone in line."

    Now I can see why they would have took the articles out onto more than likely a table. Nobody knows whats on someones person. That being said if you trained your staff properly on conducting a search and provided the proper equipment to safely do that this could have been all avioded.

    The only times I have ever had my personal items removed from my bag have been going through airport security. However I have been requested to have my bag searched MULTIPLE TIMES. Between entering different events and such. They have in the past asked if they could search my bag while entering the premises. I have always allowed them to searched but I always tell them I dont consent to having my items removed from the bag.
    • "The search was done in abusive manner," said Berthiaume's lawyer Maxime Wilkins. "My client was faced with a fait accompli, she wasn't warned she would be searched and they never got her consent."

    I have entered premises that do bag searches and everytime there has been some sort of sign stating bags my be checked for the following (lDrugs, Liquour etc). She could have choosen to refuse the search and leave the premises if she didnt feel it was right. If they refused to let her leave wouldnt that count as unlawful confindment?
    • Guzzo says his company has cancelled searches in all his theatres, even if they remain a target for piracy.

    Cancelling searches could have been dealt with differently. I would say a proper training program to ensue the bag checks would have been better. Training the staff on asking permisision to do the bag searches, and on conducting the searches.
    Last edited by EdmontonLP; 02-17-2011, 07:47 PM.
    "The difference between being a coward and a hero is not whether you're scared.....it's what you do while you're scared."

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    • #3
      Sometimes they're just checking to make sure you're not bringing food/drinks into the theater (gotta protect those concession sales, which is where theaters make most of their money!).

      However, if the movie studios want individual theater owners to enforce their property rights (prevent piracy), it seems to me that they should indemnify the theater owners from liability from lawsuits like this.
      "Every betrayal begins with trust." - Brian Jacques

      "I can't predict the future, but I know that it'll be very weird." - Anonymous

      "There is nothing new under the sun." - Eccleseastes 1:9

      "History, with all its volumes vast, hath but one page." - Lord Byron

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      • #4
        Originally posted by SecTrainer View Post
        Sometimes they're just checking to make sure you're not bringing food/drinks into the theater (gotta protect those concession sales, which is where theaters make most of their money!).

        However, if the movie studios want individual theater owners to enforce their property rights (prevent piracy), it seems to me that they should indemnify the theater owners from liability from lawsuits like this.
        I think it was more of a deterrent than an actual attempt at anything really "illicit", but in this case it was done incorrectly due to poor oversight and/or training and it caused a lawsuit. Sad to see it happen, but it's not exactly a surprise.

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        • #5
          Wow...if the article is correct and they were really just dumping items out of bags, they deserve the suit.

          We had to check for weapons, food, camera equipment, drugs, etc when I worked concert venues. We were NEVER allowed to remove an item from a bag. All we could do was ask them to open it and we could shine a light inside and ask them to move things around. If they refused, to open it or move items for us, they were barred entry. Of course, we had male and female officers to prevent any embarrassing discoveries, as my supervisor put it
          A wise son hears his father's instruction,but a scoffer does not listen to rebuke. Proverbs 13:1

          "My “Black-Ops” history ensures that you will never know about the missions I accepted in my younger days, and Vietnam still shudders when it hears the name of a an assasin so skillful and deadly, he is remembered decades later. " G-45

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          • #6
            Originally posted by EdmontonLP View Post
            [/LIST]
            The only times I have ever had my personal items removed from my bag have been going through airport security. However I have been requested to have my bag searched MULTIPLE TIMES. Between entering different events and such. They have in the past asked if they could search my bag while entering the premises. I have always allowed them to searched but I always tell them I dont consent to having my items removed from the bag.
            • "The search was done in abusive manner," said Berthiaume's lawyer Maxime Wilkins. "My client was faced with a fait accompli, she wasn't warned she would be searched and they never got her consent."

            I have entered premises that do bag searches and everytime there has been some sort of sign stating bags my be checked for the following (lDrugs, Liquour etc). She could have choosen to refuse the search and leave the premises if she didnt feel it was right. If they refused to let her leave wouldnt that count as unlawful confindment?
            You can refuse to be searched when boarding a plane. just be prepared to walk & or swim to uour destignation because you ain't flying

            In this case the woman said she couldn't refuse & walk out because she had already bought her ticket. However she could have asked for a refund.
            I enforce rules and regulations, not laws.
            Security Officers. The 1st First Responders.

            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by SecTrainer View Post
              Sometimes they're just checking to make sure you're not bringing food/drinks into the theater (gotta protect those concession sales, which is where theaters make most of their money!).

              However, if the movie studios want individual theater owners to enforce their property rights (prevent piracy), it seems to me that they should indemnify the theater owners from liability from lawsuits like this.
              When I did piracy control gigs for $STUDIO, we did bag inspections. Which meant that we looked in your bag, and had you move stuff around. We didn't touch anything. Granted, we were also independent contractors working under a host security company licensee, which meant that we made up our own policies.

              We also had nothing to do with the theatre and the only offense we would arrest for was movie piracy, or offenses related to our enforcement of the piracy control operation (public disorderly, etc.)
              Some Kind of Commando Leader

              "Every time I see another crazy Florida post, I'm glad I don't work there." ~ Minneapolis Security on Florida Security Law

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              • #8
                California law treat differently between Retail/theater security and other security.

                Retail/Theater Security CAN detain suspected customer and allowed to conduct search for stolen Item/Piracy tool (Camera).
                compare to other security are not allow to "Detain" and can search only weapon.

                Still, they don't touch or dump personal items from bag in front of public eyes unless subjects are not cooperative or refused to go office.

                I often go stadium, concert and airport.
                Security personal ask me to open my bag (waist pouch etc), they don't ask me to hand over whole bag to them.

                most of time, I un-zip and make it wide open.
                If they see something suspicious (small flashlight look like knife), they ask me to remove it from bag and hand it over to him to exam.
                I think it should be proper way and look very professorial.

                If I'm not mis-remembered, few years ago, Airport security (before TSA) asked lady to hand over her bag and dump whole items to tray.
                There was woman's adult toy among with other items on tray right in front of bunch of other passengers.
                Security and company get sued.
                a Lady said "I hand it over but I didn't know he will dump whole item to public eyes."

                Montreal mother might had something that she doesn't want to show to public eyes other than lip stick
                Not many but few chauffeurs are armed to protect clients.

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                • #9
                  I have done bag searches both manually and with the aid of an X-ray machine, in situations from concerts and sporting events to federal facilities to schools. Each required a different procedure and level of scrutiny. While I have conducted searches where I did move items in the bag after the person opened it (the most practical way to search a huge number of student backpacks, for example), I have never done, or even seen, a search where all of a person's items were dumped out on a table in public.

                  There are a couple of points to be taken from this case. A warning that bags would be searched at or prior to purchasing of tickets would have helped. Having the security officer say something as simple as "I need to check your bag, please open it for me" would have helped a lot.

                  Beyond that, a little sensitivity goes a long ways.

                  Just a few thoughts off the top of my head...

                  Dave
                  David Tombleson
                  Executive Security Manager
                  Wy'east Tactical, LLC
                  www.wyeasttactical.com

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by HotelSecurity View Post
                    A movie theater chain in Montreal has been found guilty in being excessive when searching bags of people entering the theater. http://montreal.ctv.ca/servlet/an/lo...b=MontrealHome
                    I read elsewhere that when they dumped one of the daughters purses they found birth control pill - the mother didn't know she had them.
                    Retail Security Consultant / Expert Witness
                    CoAuthor - Effective Security Management 6th Edition

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Limo LA View Post
                      California law treat differently between Retail/theater security and other security.

                      Retail/Theater Security CAN detain suspected customer and allowed to conduct search for stolen Item/Piracy tool (Camera).
                      compare to other security are not allow to "Detain" and can search only weapon.
                      Actually the California statutes 490.5 (4) states:

                      "A merchant, theater owner, a person employed by a library
                      facility, or an agent thereof, having probable cause to believe the
                      person detained was attempting to unlawfully take or has taken any
                      item from the premises, or was attempting to operate a video
                      recording device within the premises of a motion picture theater
                      without the authority of the owner of the theater, may request the
                      person detained to voluntarily surrender the item or recording.
                      Should the person detained refuse to surrender the recording or item
                      of which there is probable cause to believe has been recorded on or
                      unlawfully taken from the premises, or attempted to be recorded or
                      unlawfully taken from the premises, a limited and reasonable search
                      may be conducted by those authorized to make the detention in order
                      to recover the item. Only packages, shopping bags, handbags or other
                      property in the immediate possession of the person detained, but not
                      including any clothing worn by the person, may be searched pursuant
                      to this subdivision. Upon surrender or discovery of the item, the
                      person detained may also be requested, but may not be required, to
                      provide adequate proof of his or her true identity."

                      Notice the statute states "probable cause" Someone bringing a bag into a theater would not constitute Probable cause.
                      Retail Security Consultant / Expert Witness
                      CoAuthor - Effective Security Management 6th Edition

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                      • #12
                        As an example of why it's really important to make it obvious why bags are being searched at any particular movie, I present the following example that I experienced a few years ago.

                        The movie "Coach Carter", which was about Samuel Jackson teacher a group of inner-city minority youth to overcome obstacles, was being premiered, because it was a premiere we were contracted to do bag searches for cameras. The problem was, though, that the attendees for Coach Carter were predominantly black, whereas the attendees for the other movies at the theatre that day were mostly white. To anyone observing, and to some of the people waiting in line for Coach Carter, it looked like we had selected only the movie with a predominantly black audience for screening

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                        • #13
                          Originally posted by bigshotceo View Post
                          As an example of why it's really important to make it obvious why bags are being searched at any particular movie, I present the following example that I experienced a few years ago.

                          The movie "Coach Carter", which was about Samuel Jackson teacher a group of inner-city minority youth to overcome obstacles, was being premiered, because it was a premiere we were contracted to do bag searches for cameras. The problem was, though, that the attendees for Coach Carter were predominantly black, whereas the attendees for the other movies at the theatre that day were mostly white. To anyone observing, and to some of the people waiting in line for Coach Carter, it looked like we had selected only the movie with a predominantly black audience for screening
                          An example of the difference between Canada & the US. In the US the theatre would be out of business from the ton of lawsuits. Here, out of the 100s of people having their bags searched in the manner this woman had, only 1 sued.
                          I enforce rules and regulations, not laws.
                          Security Officers. The 1st First Responders.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by Curtis Baillie View Post
                            Notice the statute states "probable cause" Someone bringing a bag into a theater would not constitute Probable cause.
                            Yes, I knew.
                            I tried to do brief explanation by using word "Suspected customer" rather than quote actual PC490.5.

                            It means "After" they commit crime. not "Before".

                            Theatre and retail security can conduct search for items other than weapon "After" person commit crime. (if they have probable cause to believe the person did)
                            and they don't have to arrest person before conduct search.
                            other security can search only weapon after arrest was made.

                            But still, either case, it have to be after crime had been committed or in progress (even if crime was in fact true or not).

                            Bag check before entering property, it should be nothing but customer's full voluntary free will.
                            Only we (security) can do is request to leave property if they don't cooperate.

                            That means, we are not searching. Customer is voluntary showing us contents.
                            if we dump contents to table, we have to ask them before we do so. because whole action (bag check) is based on customer's voluntary will with full consent.

                            bag check before entering property is not same as weapon search after arrest nor stolen item search while detaining.


                            only 1 sued.
                            I'm glad I didn't go movie in Canada.
                            i would sue if security dump my condom, Viagra pills and adult magazines to public eyes especially if I was with female friend.
                            Then I will be Canadian news "American man sued Canadian Security because Canadian security dump his condom and Viagra pills to public eyes at movie theater"
                            Last edited by Limo LA; 02-19-2011, 03:40 PM.
                            Not many but few chauffeurs are armed to protect clients.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              "Only we (security) can do is request to leave property if they don't cooperate." So let's take this a little further. If the person is lawfully on the property and has bought a ticket to a movie and they refuse to let someone look into or search their bag - they are requested to leave the property? What if they don't want to leave, what do you do then?
                              Retail Security Consultant / Expert Witness
                              CoAuthor - Effective Security Management 6th Edition

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