Less than a month after the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit upheld a district court ruling that allows Sandy Springs, Ga., to charge alarm companies for false alarms incurred by their customers, the plaintiffs in the case – Safecom Security Solutions, A-Com Security Company and the Georgia Electronic Life Safety & Systems Association (GELSSA) – recently filed a petition seeking a rehearing of their appeal before the full court.
In their petition, the plaintiffs claim that the city’s ordinance violates their right to due process under federal and state law because:
- The city can impose punitive fines, as much as $500, on alarm companies without there being “responsible relation” between them and the conduct of their customers;
- alarm companies are not granted a “meaningful hearing” with the city before fines are imposed;
- and, the appeals process for fines is “rife with procedural deficiencies” on the back end.
“This case raises an issue that potentially could impact numerous businesses,” Stan Martin, Executive Director of the Security Industry Alarm Coalition (SIAC), said in a statement “The ruling makes it far too easy for a government entity to hold a business responsible for the actions of its customers even if the business does not have a responsible relationship with the customer’s conduct.
“What is more significant to Sandy Springs taxpayers is that the city has embarked on expensive and needless litigation even though there has never been a showing that fining alarm companies is any more effective than fining alarm owners, which is the norm throughout the country,” Martin continued. “The city could have achieved its goal of reducing alarm responses without expensive litigation.”
The original challenge to the law was dismissed by a lower federal court in 2018.
“SIAC continues working closely with law enforcement agencies throughout the country to promote the model ordinance it helped create in partnership with leaders in the law enforcement community,” said Martin. “Extreme proposals such as passing customer fines to the alarm companies for payment will be vigorously opposed. We do support stopping response or requiring verification for law enforcement dispatch when applied only to chronic abusers. More than 1,000 communities nationwide are currently using the principles of the national model ordinance and that number continues to grow steadily each year.”