Monday, August 29, 2022

Federal Court Addresses Discovery of Store Surveillance Videos in Premises Liability Case

In the premises liability case of Dietzel v. Costco Wholesale, No. 22-CV-0035 (E.D. Pa. July 12, 2022 Sitarski, J.), the court ruled that an incident report in a slip and fall matter was not privileged where it was a standard incident form prepared in the ordinary course of business and where there was no evidence that legal counsel ordered the preparation of the report or was involved in its preparation. As such, the Plaintiff’s Motion to Compel Discovery was granted in this regard.

According to the Opinion, the Plaintiff allegedly tripped and fell on a sidewalk as he entered the Defendants’ store.

In this matter, the Plaintiff also moved to compel the Defendant to produce surveillance footage.

The Defendants asserted that the fall was not captured on video because there were no nearby cameras. However, claim notes produced during discovery confirmed instructions to the Defendant to preserve footage from the nearest camera.

During the course of discovery, the Plaintiff requested the surveillance and, when it was refused, filed a Motion to Compel the Defendants to produce any footage from the property or to confirm that they failed to preserve footage as directed.

The court found that the Plaintiff’s request for all security footage from the store to be an overbroad request. Instead, the court ruled that a more reasonable scope would be to allow for footage from thirty (30) minutes before and after the subject incident and/or to require the Defendant to certify that they had no such footage.

In its Opinion, the court also ordered the Defendant to provide more specific Responses to the Plaintiff’s Interrogatories. However, the court denied the Plaintiff’s request for the identity of all employees working anywhere on the property on the date of the incident. The court found no basis for the Plaintiff to need to know the identity of the more than 100 workers who were working at the store on the date of the incident.

Anyone wishing to review a copy of this decision may click this LINK.  The Court's companion Order can be viewed HERE.

Source: “Digest of Recent Opinions.” Pennsylvania Law Weekly (Aug. 12, 2022). 

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