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80 Years Ago

Archives 07-02-2003






Livingston City Pool play now in full summer splash
Locker room cameras cause $4 million suit
City budget passes on 2nd reading


Livingston City Pool play now in full summer splash

Lyndon Johnson/OCN staff

Several Livingston youths have made good use of Livingston City Pool and the high dive board therein. The cool water has made for a refreshing break from the recent temperatures, which have been hovering around 90 degrees.




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Locker room cameras cause $4 million suit

Ill-advised camera placements at Livingston Middle School have brought about a lawsuit asking in excess of $4 million.

The law firms of Neal & Harwell PLC, of Nashville, and Lowery & Lowery, of Lebanon, filed suit at 4 p.m. Thursday, June 26 in Overton County Circuit Court on behalf of parents of 17 Overton County students.

The lawsuit asks for $100,000 per child for compensatory damages, $2,500,000 for punitive damages, and a permanent injunction precluding Overton County School System from placing hidden video or audio surveillance equipment in areas of the school system where persons have a reasonable expectation of privacy, including but not limited to locker room changing areas, rest rooms, and shower areas. The suit also asks for a 12-person jury.

Named as defendants in the lawsuit are Overton County School Board as an entity and the members individually, William Needham, Robert Jolley, Melinda Beaty, Edutech Inc., and up to 20 as yet unidentified agents or employees or former employees of Overton County School Board, Overton County School System, or Edutech, who participated in the planning, designing, placement, or maintenance of the video equipment at LMS.

The complaint reads, "This is an action resulting from the placement of hidden video surveillance equipment by school officials in the locker room changing areas in the Livingston Middle School.

The complaint alleges, "The equipment obtained images of elementary school children in various stages of dress and undress."

The lawsuit also alleges the images obtained by the hidden video surveillance equipment were stored on a hard drive accessible by remote internet connection, and that the image system was accessed between July 12, 2002, and January 10, 2003.

The lawsuit alleges, "Overton County School Board, and its individual members and employees named as Defendants herein, enacted policies, customs, and/or procedures that, in essence, permitted individual school principals, assistant principals, and/or their designees, including Edutech, Inc., to install surveillance equipment in any and all locations in the schools."

The suit claims Edutech, at the direction of Needham, Jolley, and Beaty, placed surveillance equipment in the gymnasium locker room changing areas at Livingston Middle School.

The suit alleges, "Defendant Edutech, Inc., its agents, and employees (included herein among John Does 1-10) had a non-delegable duty to use reasonable care in the design, placement, and maintenance of video cameras and other surveillance equipment in the Livingston Middle School and in other schools in the Overton County School System."

The suit also faults Edutech for failing to provide adequate notice to children and other persons using the locker room changing areas in the Livingston Middle School that they would be subject to hidden video surveillance.

The suit claims the hard drive used with the surveillance equipment was located in the LMS assistant principal's office, and that the username and password that could provide access through the remote internet connection remained at the factory default settings.

"In other words," the suit states, "there were no meaningful security protections to restrict access to the images of the children."

The suit asks for punitive damages by claiming the school system had a heightened duty of care because their conduct involved the care and custody of children, and for the harm caused to the children.

The suit states, "Plaintiffs suffered damages as a proximate result of Defendant's wrongful conduct, including embarrassment, anxiety, and emotional distress."

The suit addresses immunity of School Board members by claiming the members' conduct amounted to willful, wanton, or gross negligence. It also claims the limits of liability should be removed because the acts and omissions of the defendants were willful, malicious, and criminal.

No charges were filed in connection with the video cameras at LMS, though law enforcement did investigate when the cameras were brought into question after girls on a visiting basketball team noticed them on January 9.

The cameras, which were apparently digital still-shot models that feed into a processing unit, were reportedly taken down the following day.

A TBI agent, along with an investigator from Livingston Police Department and an Overton County deputy, went to the school the following evening to meet with school officials. The area in question was investigated and the processing unit for the school's camera system was removed at that time for further investigation.

Melinda Beaty, principal of LMS at the time, and Robert Jolley, assistant principal at the time, were reassigned to other areas in the school system on February 13.



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City budget passes on 2nd reading


Livingston City Council approved the second reading of the Town of Livingston Budget for 2003-2004 during a public hearing Monday, June 30. Alderman Thurman Langford was absent.

The budget approval set the city's tax rate at 1.16 percent.

Alderman Curtis Hayes asked accountant Joel Parks to clarify what he understood as a benefit to the city if the sewer treatment plant were annexed into the city limits. Alderman Hayes had recently encouraged Livingston Planning Commission to consider annexing an area behind the Hutchinson factory on the west end of town, which would include the plant.

According to Parks, the town could see around a $15,000 in lieu of taxes benefit if the town's treatment facility were inside the city limits. That would allow the money to be shifted from the water department into the general fund.

The Council approved the amended 2002-2003 budget.

A correction was approved to the budget to make sure employees' insurance was included for the full fiscal year.

The aldermen agreed to make an offer to Overton County Board of Education to settle an apparent overbilling for gas at A.H. Roberts Elementary School.



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Overton County News
415 West Main Street
P.O. Box 479
Livingston, Tennessee 38570
tel 931.823.6485
fax 931.823.6486



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