LOS ANGELES (CBS) — A lawsuit has been filed against Sears seeking damages for crimes committed by a former maintenance man accused of hiding video cameras and taping females in dressing rooms throughout the company’s store at the Valley Plaza mall.
The suit was filed Monday on behalf of 25 plaintiffs that include Sears North Hollywood store employees, customers and alleged victims of Alejandro Gamiz.
Gamiz, 27, was arrested on April 12. He is facing 30 criminal counts of peeping into a changing room with the intention of invading an individual’s privacy and 30 criminal counts of using a concealed video recording device inside a changing room.
Cameras installed by Gamiz were allegedly linked to laptop computers and triggered by motion sensors. Investigators believe the cameras were in operation for at least three years.
The lawsuit, filed by Michael Alder, president of the Consumer Attorneys Association of Los Angeles, seeks unspecified damages “on behalf of the plaintiffs, including: negligent hiring, supervision and retention of Gamiz as an employee of Sears, invasion of privacy, intentional infliction of emotional distress and hostile work environment harassment and retaliation against the employees who have come forward in the case,” a CAALA statement said.
“ . . . despite Gamiz’s suspicious behavior dating from 2009, Sears intentionally turned a blind eye,” according to Alder.
Sears declined to comment further on the lawsuit due to pending litigation.
“But as we said previously and with all due respect to the associates who may have been impacted by this incident, no member of management or leadership in the company had any prior knowledge of the accused’s alleged conduct until it was discovered in our store. At that point, we immediately launched an investigation and turned the matter over to the police,” said company spokesperson Kimberly Freely.