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Alarm Company Liability

As stated elsewhere in this newsletter, an alarm company was sued for faulty installation of a home alarm system. The following case indicates a continuing rise in lawsuits filed against alarm companies.

ADT was judged at fault for not having prevented a criminal act. Terri Lynn Lee and Timothy Hawkinson were murdered in a home that was armed with an allegedly faulty ADT security system. The killer, Steven Van Keuren, was Lee’s former boyfriend. Prior to the murders, Van Keuren had gone to Lee’s residence and assaulted her. He was arrested, charged and released on bond. Following the assault, Lee and her boyfriend (Hawkinson) purchased an ADT home security alarm system.

The plaintiffs alleged that Lee and Hawkinson had informed ADT’s sales representative that they were purchasing the security system in order to protect against attacks by Van Keuren. On the day of the sale, the sales agent performed a walk-through of Lee’s home. The agent said that exposed outside phone lines and sliding glass doors were vulnerabilities that could be exploited by an intruder. The agent also said that with an ADT security system an alarm would sound if the exterior phone lines were cut or the sliding glass doors forced open. The sales representative recommended installation of motion detectors that would sound if an intruder entered Lee’s basement. Lee and Hawkinson purchased an alarm system that corresponded to the agent’s recommendations.

Plaintiffs argued that ADT’s alarm system installer failed to enable the feature that would monitor the integrity of the outside phone lines, failed to install glass break detectors and installed faulty motion detectors in the basement. Van Keuren admitted he had carried out the murders after cutting the phone lines to the home, breaking the sliding glass doors and walking past several motion detectors. In all three instances the alarm system failed to go off. This case is a good example of liability arising out of an alarm company’s failure.



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