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Lawsuit: Coffee Bean In Encino Covered Up Hidden Cameras In Restrooms

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LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — A local attorney allegedly placed hidden cameras under sinks at Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf bathrooms in Encino, according to a lawsuit.

The class action suit, filed by patron Roderick Smith, accuses Mark Daniel Wenzel of using the devices to record people on the toilet.

Coffee Bean was also named in the lawsuit for not doing enough to prevent the recordings from happening in the first place.

In October 2011, Smith claims he told management at the coffee house that he found a camera pointing to the toilet while he was using the restroom.

Smith said he later found a camera in a bathroom at another Coffee Bean location a few blocks away.

Smith’s attorney, Brian Kabateck, said police only got involved when his client found the camera again at the first coffee shop.

“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,” he said.

Shortly after Smith’s discoveries, authorities arrested Wenzel on a misdemeanor invasion of privacy charge at the second Coffee Bean location.

The lawyer allegedly incriminated himself when he recorded his face as he installed the spy cams.

Wenzel pleaded no contest and was ordered to stay 100 yards away from all Coffee Bean shops, among other things.

“This is a gross invasion of privacy and deplorable that a lawyer who fights to protect consumers was involved in this type of activity,” said Kabateck.

Smith’s attorney also said Coffee Bean would have found the cameras if they had proper health and safety inspections.

“It is the responsibility of all retailers to protect their customers’ right to privacy in a dressing room or bathroom,” Kabateck said.

Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf released this statement:

“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.”

Smith alleges invasion of privacy, negligence and intentional infliction of emotional distress in the lawsuit.

He’s seeking unspecified damages.

(©2012 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. Wire services contributed to this report.)

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