Failure to investigate: If and when you receive complaints about employees, or about
the facility you are securing or managing, you have a basic and fundamental duty to
investigate and resolve the problem. Failure to do so is evidence if negligence.
Failure to discipline: Not establishing and utilizing a formal process for discipline.
As you can see, there are lots of things you, as a supervisor or manager, can fail to do,
and for which you can be held liable, civilly and/or criminally. But the good news is that most
of these can be avoided with the use of common sense, dedication to duty, and an effective
working relationship with your organization’s legal advisor.
Other General Areas of Liability
Now that you have been briefly introduced to the intentional torts and negligence, you should
also be aware of a few more areas in which the security industry is particularly vulnerable to
liability. These areas include the following:
1. Nuisance, which is defined as either being private or being public.
A private nuisance is the substantial, unreasonable interference with another person’s
use or enjoyment of their property (land).
A public nuisance is the unreasonable interference with the health, safety, or property
rights of the community.
Legal remedies for nuisance can involve payment of money damages to the victim(s)
and/or Injunctive Relief in which the court issues an order to stop doing whatever it is
you were doing that was a nuisance.
2. Defamation: This is a very sensitive area for liability in the security industry. It is
most often seen when an improper arrest has been made and the arrestee has lost
status as a result of the improper arrest. It is occasionally seen in investigative cases
in which information is improperly disseminated and the victim loses status or
reputation or is otherwise damaged by leaked information that should have remained
confidential. Defamation is subdivided into two general categories:
(a) Libel, which requires the publication of defamatory information about the
Plaintiff, that is, it is put into writing and disseminated to others, and
(b) Slander, which is the spoken word that includes defamatory information about the
(c) There are different standards of proof required to prove defamation between a
“public figure” and a private citizen. Generally speaking, public figures are subject
to more public scrutiny, and it is more difficult to prove defamation concerning a
public figure.
Defenses to defamation include:
Consent (the victim consented to your actions);
Truth of statement (if you are telling the truth, you cannot be defaming the person);
Absolute privilege (which occurs in judicial, legislative, and executive proceedings);
If you were forced into your actions against your will;
Communications between spouses; and
Qualified privilege (such as public reporting, or the special interest of the recipient
such as your client).
Another area of special interest to the security field is that of invasion of privacy. There
are several actions that would constitute this tort, but, from a security standpoint, it is most
often an act of prying or intruding into another person’s private affairs that would be objec-
tionable to a reasonable person. Also, publication of information, which portrays the victim
in a “false light,” and the public disclosure of private facts that a reasonable person with
ordinary sensibilities would find objectionable could also constitute this tort. If you do any
of these things and actually cause damages (emotional distress is sufficient), you are liable for
this action. As with the tort of defamation, this tort can be defended if you had consent to
perform your actions by the victim or if you had a privilege to perform your actions.

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