Can a Shoplifter Severely Injured by Security Sue the Store?
As strange as it might sound, anyone can bring legal action against a business establishment for injury regardless of whether that injury was sustained during the commission of a crime. All states allow lawsuits to be filed between individuals and businesses to resolve monetary disputes resulting from personal injury or property damage. Such suits prove costly even in the event no judgment is rendered against the company.
To reduce overall liability, companies incorporate strict policies regarding the interaction between employees and suspected shoplifters. Most companies do not allow employees to physically confront anyone, especially during a potentially volatile situation such as theft or suspected criminal activity. These policies are in place not only to protect the employee but also the company. Should either party become injured, the company bares tremendous liability and could be forced to cover hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of medical bills. Monetary losses incurred by shoplifters are tax deductible for businesses and might be insured through a separate policy.
In the event that an employee witnesses an act of theft, management or store security guards have the right to reasonably detain an individual. This may include a routine pat down to ensure officer safety, requesting identification of the individual and requesting the individual remain on the premises until law enforcement authorities arrive to investigate. Such detentions must only be done in the event that probable cause can be articulated in court. Additionally, any detentions must only last for a reasonable amount of time to gather the necessary infomation.
Unless an employee is acting to protect the life of another individual or his own life, legal statute does not permit the use of force by non-law enforcement personnel to protect any form of property. This includes any physical confrontation that could result in injury to either party. Such actions can be brought against the company policy and could cause criminal charges to be brought against the overzealous employee. In some instances the company involved may seek legal compensation due to the policy violation.
The federal statute requiring the reading of Miranda rights to a detained individual doesn't pertain to security officers. Any information gathered during an investigation by a security guard is fully admissible in court. This includes all information voluntarily given during an interview. Many shoplifters might mistakenly believe that information given is not admissible.