Livingston City Pool play now in full
Locker room cameras cause $4 million suit
City budget passes on 2nd reading
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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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
The complaint alleges, "The equipment obtained
images of elementary school children in various stages of dress
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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budget passes on 2nd reading
By DEWAIN E. PEEK, OCN staff
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
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