Plaintiff Is Not Entitled To 24-hour Security Camera Footage (PA)
The E.D.P.A in Dietzel v. Costco Wholesale ruled that plaintiff Dietzel was not entitled to the defendant’s Costco Wholesale’s security camera footage, unless the footage actually captured Dietzel’s accident. This case was centered on Dietzel’s trip and fall that occurred as he tried to enter a Costco location in North Wales, Pennsylvania. During discovery, Costco claimed that the alleged fall was not captured on its video camera because there were no cameras facing the area where the fall occurred. Costco refused to turn over any security camera footage, even though Dietzel’s discovery requests explicitly called for the production of security camera footage for the one hour leading up to the fall, even if the footage did not capture the fall itself. In response, Dietzel filed a Motion to Compel “any and all” footage from the property, and demanded the footage be produced prior to Dietzel’s deposition.
The Court ruled that Dietzel’s request for the entire 24-hour security camera footage from the day of the accident was overbroad and not proportional to the needs of the case. Instead, the Court instructed Costco to produce any footage capturing the 30 minutes before and after the fall occurred. If Costco didn’t have footage of the fall, Costco was required to certify that in writing. Arguably more interesting is that the Court ruled Costco must produce the footage, or certify its non-existence, prior to Dietzel’s deposition. The Court was persuaded by the reasoning used in Williams v. D.P. Fence-North. In that case, the Court discussed the differences between security camera footage and surveillance footage. Surveillance footage, typically footage of the plaintiff taken after a lawsuit has been commenced, is considered attorney work product created for purpose of impeaching a plaintiff regarding the extent of his/her injuries. As a result, surveillance footage isn’t required to be disclosed until after the plaintiff has been deposed. On the other hand, security camera footage is made in the routine course of business and is not attorney work product. The Court agreed with the ruling of several other courts which required security camera footage be produced prior to a deposition of the plaintiff.
The takeaway from this case is that while surveillance footage can be withheld until after a plaintiff’s deposition, security camera footage must be produced beforehand. In addition, a party is not entitled to an entire day’s worth of security camera footage.Thanks to Brian Zappala for his contribution to this article. Should you have any questions, please contact Heather Aquino.