Federal Appeals Court Affirms Dismissal of ADT Security Negligence Case


A federal appeals court affirmed a district court’s dismissal of a lawsuit against ADT Security that alleged the company provided an erroneous address to an emergency response dispatcher, resulting in the death of a Michigan homeowner.

The plaintiff, Dwight Spengler, signed a residential services contract with ADT in 2004 to install and monitor a security alarm at the home of his mother, Veronica Barker. The agreement included a portable call button alarm that Barker could activate when in distress, according to court documents.

Due to previous medical treatment of her ailments, Barker had lost the ability to speak. ADT had instructions to call Spengler in the event of an alarm from his mother.

In Oct. 2005, Barker sounded the emergency call button prompting a response. Spengler’s lawsuit stated that by providing an incorrect address to the dispatcher, ADT committed misfeasance, subjecting the company to tort liability. However, the court found that ADT “breached no duty independent of the parties’ agreement.”

The court granted a summary judgment to Spengler, limiting damages to the $500 amount stated in the parties’ agreement. Spengler appealed the ruling.

The federal court of appeals determined a security company does not owe a duty of care to its customers to protect them beyond the duties outlined in the contract for services.

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