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Soliman v. Kushner Companies, Inc.

Superior Court of New Jersey, Appellate Division

May 16, 2012, Argued; October 17, 2013, Decided

DOCKET NO. A-5397-10T2

Opinion

 [*159]  [**1218]   The opinion of the court was delivered by

FUENTES, P.J.A.D.

These are four consolidated law suits brought by employees of tenants and members of their families, including minors, against the landlord and managers  [***2] of this commercial office building, as well as a number of other companies responsible for installing and maintaining video monitoring and recording equipment intentionally concealed inside smoke detectors in four public bathrooms, two male and two female.1

Defendants claimed the cameras were positioned to monitor or focus only on the "common area" of the bathrooms, where the washbasins are located. Stated differently, defendants claim the cameras were not placed to monitor the toilet stalls and therefore did not invade or violate plaintiffs' expectation of privacy.

It is not disputed that the managers of the office building installed this surveillance equipment in 2003, ostensibly in response to complaints made by certain tenants of vandalism and damage to bathroom facilities. The scope and nature of the vandalism included both the area where the washbasins are located,  [*160]  as well as the toilet areas. Specifically, defendants allege tenants complained the toilets in these bathrooms were overflowing and being rendered unusable by unknown individuals intentionally or negligently  [***3] placing paper towels or other obstructions into the toilet bowls to block or impede the flow of water. According to defendants, they installed the video surveillance equipment and concealed the cameras inside the bathrooms' smoke detectors to deter this vandalism and gather evidence against the alleged vandals.

Although installed and made operational in 2003, defendants claimed the entire video surveillance equipment lay dormant and unused for four years. Defendants claimed the stealthy monitoring of the bathrooms began in 2007, and only functioned for three continuous days.

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433 N.J. Super. 153 *; 77 A.3d 1214 **; 2013 N.J. Super. LEXIS 150 ***; 2013 WL 5639501

PATRICIA SOLIMAN, PLAINTIFF-APPELLANT, v. THE KUSHNER COMPANIES, INC. A/K/A KUSHNER COMPANIES; WESTMINSTER MANAGEMENT, L.L.C.; CK BERGEN HOLDINGS, L.L.C. A/K/A CK BERGEN HOLDINGS; CK BERGEN ASSOCIATES, L.L.C. A/K/A CK BERGEN ASSOCIATES; KUSHNER PROPERTIES, INC.; WESTMINSTER MANAGEMENT, L.P.; ROUTE 208 ASSOCIATES, L.L.C.; PHIL CHAIKLIN; HIGH TECH INSTALLATIONS; AND HIGH TECH DEPOT, L.L.C., DEFENDANTS-RESPONDENTS.MICHELE F. AVRIN, PLAINTIFF-APPELLANT, v. THE KUSHNER COMPANIES, INC. A/K/A KUSHNER COMPANIES; WESTMINSTER MANAGEMENT, L.L.C.; CK BERGEN HOLDINGS, L.L.C. A/K/A CK BERGEN HOLDINGS; CK BERGEN ASSOCIATES, L.L.C. A/K/A CK BERGEN ASSOCIATES; KUSHNER PROPERTIES, INC.; WESTMINSTER MANAGEMENT, L.P.; ROUTE 208 ASSOCIATES, L.L.C.; PHIL CHAIKLIN; HIGH TECH INSTALLATIONS; AND HIGH TECH DEPOT, L.L.C., DEFENDANTS-RESPONDENTS.CAC (INFANT PLAINTIFF # 1) BY HER MOTHER MAC (PLAINTIFF # 2) AND MAC (PLAINTIFF # 2) INDIVIDUALLY;, AAC (INFANT PLAINTIFF # 3) AND AYC (INFANT PLAINTIFF # 4) BY THEIR MOTHER RLC (PLAINTIFF # 5) AND RLC (PLAINTIFF # 5) INDIVIDUALLY; TAK (INFANT PLAINTIFF # 6) BY HER FATHER TOK (PLAINTIFF # 7) AND TOK (PLAINTIFF # 7) INDIVIDUALLY; SG (INFANT PLAINTIFF #8) BY HIS MOTHER AG (PLAINTIFF # 9) AND AG (PLAINTIFF # 9 INDIVIDUALLY); DK (INFANT PLAINTIFF # 10) BY HER FATHER JK (PLAINTIFF # 11) AND JK (PLAINTIFF # 11) INDIVIDUALLY; DEL (INFANT PLAINTIFF # 12) AND TL (INFANT PLAINTIFF # 13) AND DAL (INFANT PLAINTIFF # 14) BY THEIR MOTHER DL (PLAINTIFF # 15) AND DL (PLAINTIFF # 15) INDIVIDUALLY; JG (INFANT PLAINTIFF # 16) BY HIS MOTHER JJ (PLAINTIFF # 17) AND JJ (PLAINTIFF # 17) INDIVIDUALLY; JL (INFANT PLAINTIFF # 18) AND TL (INFANT PLAINTIFF # 19) BY THEIR MOTHER GCL (PLAINTIFF # 20) AND GCL (PLAINTIFF # 20) INDIVIDUALLY; ST (INFANT PLAINTIFF # 21) AND AT (INFANT PLAINTIFF # 22) BY THEIR MOTHER LT (PLAINTIFF # 23) AND LT (PLAINTIFF # 23) INDIVIDUALLY; AY (INFANT PLAINTIFF # 24), AND LY (INFANT PLAINTIFF # 25) BY THEIR MOTHER WFY (PLAINTIFF # 26) AND WFY (PLAINTIFF # 26) INDIVIDUALLY; KRZ (INFANT PLAINTIFF # 27) BY HER MOTHER KZ (PLAINTIFF # 28) AND KZ (PLAINTIFF # 28) INDIVIDUALLY; BF (INFANT PLAINTIFF # 29) AND AF (INFANT PLAINTIFF #30) BY THEIR PARENTS RF (PLAINTIFF #31) AND MF (PLAINTIFF #32) AND RF (PLAINTIFF #31) AND MF (PLAINTIFF #32) EACH INDIVIDUALLY; AN (INFANT PLAINTIFF # 33) AND RN (INFANT PLAINTIFF # 34) BY IN (PLAINTIFF # 35) AND IN (PLAINTIFF # 35) INDIVIDUALLY; JJA (INFANT PLAINTIFF # 36) BY HER PARENTS JAJ (PLAINTIFF # 37) AND MC (PLAINTIFF # 38) AND JAJ (PLAINTIFF # 37) AND MC (PLAINTIFF # 38) INDIVIDUALLY; CB (PLAINTIFF # 39); YC (PLAINTIFF # 40); GE (PLAINTIFF # 41), EDI (PLAINTIFF #42); AD (PLAINTIFF # 43);, EDR (PLAINTIFF # 44); ADR (PLAINTIFF # 45); GF (PLAINTIFF # 46); SF (PLAINTIFF # 47); CL (PLAINTIFF # 48); AL (PLAINTIFF # 49); MMA (PLAINTIFF # 50); KBM (PLAINTIFF # 51); MMO (PLAINTIFF #52); KN (PLAINTIFF # 53); MP (PLAINTIFF # 54); IR (PLAINTIFF # 55); KS (PLAINTIFF # 56); CS (PLAINTIFF # 57); BS (PLAINTIFF # 58); LW (PLAINTIFF # 60); AND EF (PLAINTIFF # 60); PLAINTIFFS-APPELLANTS, v. THE KUSHNER COMPANIES, INC. A/K/A KUSHNER COMPANIES; WESTMINSTER MANAGEMENT, APPELLATE DIVISION. L.L.C.; CK BERGEN HOLDINGS, L.L.C. A/K/A CK BERGEN HOLDINGS; CK BERGEN ASSOCIATES, L.L.C. A/K/A CK BERGEN ASSOCIATES; KUSHNER PROPERTIES, INC.; WESTMINSTER MANAGEMENT, L.P.; ROUTE 208 ASSOCIATES, L.L.C.; PHIL CHAIKLIN; HIGH TECH INSTALLATIONS; AND HIGH TECH DEPOT, L.L.C., DEFENDANTS-RESPONDENTS.RICKY DIPILLA, MARY ELLEN PHELAN, PERRY DEATON, KENNETH THIMMEL, JONATHAN SCOTT STEPHENS, PHYLLIS RUBIN, VIVIANA A. WISSE, MARY PETRUCELLO, MIKE O'SULLIVAN, LAURA PHELAN, EDWARD ROBINSON AND WILLIAM NEWMAN, PLAINTIFFS, v. ROUTE 208 ASSOCIATES, LLC, THE KUSHNER COMPANIES, WESTMINSTER MANAGEMENT, LLC, CK BERGEN HOLDINGS, LLC, KUSHNER PROPERTIES, INC., WESTMINSTER MANAGEMENT, L.P., DEFENDANTS.

Subsequent History:  [***1] Approved for Publication October 17, 2013.

Prior History: On appeal from Superior Court of New Jersey, Law Division, Bergen County, Docket No. L-2581-08.

CORE TERMS

bathrooms, cameras, invasion of privacy, plaintiffs', monitor, defendants', privacy, intrusion, restrooms, installed, anxiety, right to privacy, vandalism, damages, video surveillance, reasonable person, toilet stall, surveillance, suffering, disorder, grounded, tenants, stall, sink, expectation of privacy, personal hardship, summary judgment, positioned, concealed, discovery

Civil Procedure, Defenses, Demurrers & Objections, Motions to Dismiss, Failure to State Claim, Evidence, Inferences & Presumptions, Inferences, Standards of Review, Substantial Evidence, Sufficiency of Evidence, Appeals, De Novo Review, Summary Judgment Review, Standards of Review, Summary Judgment, Entitlement as Matter of Law, Genuine Disputes, Constitutional Law, Substantive Due Process, Privacy, General Overview, Torts, Intentional Torts, Invasion of Privacy, Civil Rights Law, Intrusions, Elements, Remedies, Burdens of Proof, Allocation, Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress