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When a Philadelphia trolley grazed the mirror of an oncoming bus, nine trolley passengers tried to cash in by filing lawsuits alleging injuries suffered from the accident.

But what they didn’t know was that they were being watched.

“It’s disgusting,” says Michael Kates of Philadelphia Trolley Works.  “It really frustrates me.”

Knowing that fraud such as this was possible, Kates spent $5,000 to install a video monitoring system in his Philadelphia Trolley Works cars. When the video of the incident showed what really happened, his $5,000 investment likely saved him millions of dollars of legal costs in years spent fighting these bogus claims.

A 2011 survey of small businesses conducted by the U.S. Chamber Institute for Legal Reform found that more than one-third of these business owners had been sued or threatened with a lawsuit at some point. To protect themselves, businesses are turning to video camera systems.

“Companies are increasing their use of cameras based on cost effectiveness, based on the ability of the camera to provide a very accurate portion of what happened.  Also, to prove what didn’t happen,” said security expert Tom Kasza.

“Unfortunately I just think you have to be skeptical of every thing and everybody out there attempting to do this,” concluded Kates.

16 comments

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  • What i am not understanding is why isn’t some sort of punitive being taken against the lawyers bringing on all of these frivolous lawsuits?This is nothing more than legalized extortion and is crippling the creative drive that made this country unique.

  • Every single person who tried to cash in should be counter sued for false claims or at the very least arrested for conspiring to defraud this owner out of money that might have put him out of business. This nonsense MUST STOP! There HAS TO BE A PUNISHMENT FOR FALSE CLAIMS SUCH AS THIS!

  • This is such nonsense. We need tort reform. Bring a suit that is deemed frivolous, claimant pays all defendant’s legal costs and incurs a penalty. That would finish this unethical behavior on the part of both phony claimants and unethical ambulance chasers. Problem is, the attorneys are the foxes that guard the hen house. As long as judges come from the ranks of attorneys the system is corrupt as hell. No wonder lawyers, especially litigators who take on these B.S. cases, are literally hated. Must stop this!

  • As someone who handles claims in the Property & Casualty arena for an insurance carrier, I see the rampant fraud on a daily basis. Unfortunately, even when you believe you have a bonafide fraud case, with pretty airtight documentation to prove it, usually the state insurance depatments won’t prosecute unless it’s a “sexy” case that would garner press coverage for the prosecutor. As for video cameras, always a great idea. However, the bulk of claims seem to be brought at a length of time far enough post alleged incident, that had the business establishment even have had a system to caoture the accident, by the time they knew a claim was being pursues, the footage has already been taped over or erased. As for tort reform, it’ll never happen when leaders of the legislature, such as here in NY State, are active members of plaintiff law firms!!

  • You can’t sue for fraud but you might try slander they tried to ruin his good name under false pretense. These people are only doing what an attorney will try what should happen is attorneys records and cases should be published and public knowledge so people can see a fraud up front.

  • I drove a school bus for years. the best thing the Co. did was pit cameras on board. Stopped a lot of foolishness and law suits.

  • Both the PInellas and HIllsborough County (Fl) transit authorities have at least 8 cameras with sound in every bus. Ever since they installed them about 5 years ago lawsuits have dropped to almost none.

  • The problem is that these suits are often settled for some amount of money rather than tried and so money is paid out no matter how insane the suit. We need reform, perhaps by makiing it necessary to show a probable cause for suing rather than letting anyone sue who pays the fee for filling a claim. Some attorneys have been known to file dozens of frivilous lawsuits in hopes of getting settlements in at least a few of those.

  • At the State of Illinois building in Chicago, one is able to peer out over the open lobby as people enter the building. Looking from the eighth floor balcony, you will see people entering the building carrying but not using canes, crutches, walkers and other devices normally used by injured people. Move over to the bank of elevators and you will see these people actively using these devices getting off at the floor where workers compensation hearings are held. That was my experience on several different days in 1998. Don’t know if it is the same today but I bet it is.