Video Surveillance Evidence – Observations (and a Request) from a Retail Liability Attorney

More times than not, in cases involving retailers – whether the claim relates to alleged non-productive stops, purported premises defect, third party tort, etc. – video surveillance evidence becomes central to discovery. This evidence can often (very often) times be exculpatory. We recently dug a retail client out of an enormous potential exposure because the LPM on duty, working with corporate risk management, had the sense to:

(1) recognize the patron’s injury was serious and could give rise to a claim at the time the loss occurred;

(2) preserve the evidence – including the footage from minutes (not seconds) leading up to the loss; and

(3) insure that corporate RM got the video – along with the complete incident report package this retailer uses – ASAP.

Though suit was filed, the matter was dismissed post haste once we produced the video depicting the claimant was completely and unquestionably responsible for the loss. Thus, a lot of time, effort, and costs (operational, defense, and indemnity) were saved/preserved in the process.

Working as a partnership between the store, corporate RM, and counsel, video surveillance can be powerful evidence to help save the day. However, the location where the loss occurred has to give RM and counsel a fighting chance by using common sense and adhering to corporate protocols regarding the securing of video evidence in a prompt, complete, and competent manner. Therefore, my simple request of retailers is this: when a loss occurs that arguably could give rise to a claim, preserve and protect the footage, and get it to risk management ASAP. A lot of heartache, frustration, finger pointing, etc. can be saved by following this simple step.

About Christian Stegmaier
Senior Shareholder

Christian Stegmaier is a shareholder and chair of the Retail & Hospitality Practice Group at Collins & Lacy in Columbia. He is also active in the firm’s professional liability and appellate practices. Stegmaier welcomes your questions at (803) 255-0454 or