A popular coffee shop chain is under fire for how it addressed repeated discoveries of a bathroom peeping Tom at a couple of its stores, according to a new lawsuit filed in Los Angeles Superior Court last week.
According to Courthouse News, lead plaintiff Roderick Smith discovered the first spy camera nestled in the u-bend of the sink in an Encino, Calif., Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf store in October of last year. Smith said after he noticed the device inside the bathroom's unisex facilities, he immediatetly told management at the shop but was told the camera looked more like a flash drive, according to Smith's attorney Brian Kabateck.
Within one week of discovering that he had been secretly videotaped by a recording device in defendant Coffee Bean's restroom, and having immediately alerted and notified defendant Coffee Bean's management, plaintiff made a second startling and equally disturbing discovery at the same Coffee Bean location.
According to the complaint, police finally apprehended the suspect after a third camera was discovered at another Coffee Bean location a few blocks away. Wenzel, a partner at Dolginer & Wenzel in Encino, has offices located in between the two Coffee Bean stores, according to Patch.
Police arrested Wenzel on a misdemeanor charge at one of the Coffee Bean locations, KTLA reports. He pleaded no contest to the charges and was ordered to pay a fine and perform community service. He was also ordered to 100 yards away from all Coffee Bean stores.
The suit is seeking punitive damages and an injunction for invasion of privacy, negligence, negligent hiring, training and supervision, and intentional infliction of emotional distress. The complaint names Wenzel as well as corporate International Coffee & Tea LLC, which failed to "proactively prevent" the attorney's spying, according to the suit.
“The minute the device, the little camera was found, Coffee Bean workers should’ve gone to corporate, investigated, and called police, instead of dismissing a customer who reported a situation that turned out to be very serious,” attorney Kabateck told CBS Los Angeles.
Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf calls itself the oldest and largest privately-held specialty coffee and tea retailer in the United States, according to its website. It has more than 800 stores in more than 20 countries.
In a statement obtained by CBS Los Angeles, the company said: “We believe that our cooperation helped lead to the arrest of the suspect. In light of the pending litigation surrounding this matter, we are unable to comment further at this time.”