Cinema ordered to pay $10K in damages for search
Published Monday, May 25, 2009 7:29PM EDT
A Quebec court has ordered a cinema to pay $10,000 in damages after staff searched patrons' bags and turned up smuggled snacks and birth control pills -- and in the process violated their privacy rights.
The incident happened in 2007 when a woman took her two daughters to Cinemas Guzzo in Montreal to watch the film "Shrek the Third," said CTV Montreal's Rob Lurie.
Staff at the theatre were searching customers' bags for video equipment that could be used for movie piracy.
Security guards didn't find any video equipment in the family's bags, but did turn up a large selection of snack food, which they asked the family to take back to their vehicle, Lurie said.
"They did so willingly. But they continued the search of the bags and while searching they also uncovered some birth control pills belonging to the older daughter," Lurie said.
"Needless to say the mother was not pleased to find out in this manner that her daughter had those pills in her possession."
The woman then filed a lawsuit over the alleged privacy violation, seeking $60,000 in damages.
The judge ruled Monday that the cinema must pay $10,000 in compensation to the family over the incident..
Vince Guzzo, vice-president of Cinemas Guzzo, told CTV Montreal that the judge ruled cinema staff can still search bags, but must follow stricter rules when doing so.
"What the judge is saying is we could search bags, the problem is we have to tell people at the moment of purchasing the ticket with a sign at the ticket booth," Guzzo said.
"And we're not allowed to put our hands in your bag, which is totally understandable. I don't want to put my hands in your bag. In fact, leave the bags in the car."
With a report from CTV Montreal