How do I obtain private video surveillance footage?
If I ask my neighbor for the video that he has been shooting of my house, does he have to give it to me? No, private images do not have to be voluntarily relinquished by the owner even if the images are of you. The cops can seize images from bad actors but unfortunately, you cannot. So exactly how do I obtain my next door neighbor’s private video surveillance footage of my home and family? The correct legal procedure is to file a civil lawsuit so that you have a court case number to put on your pleadings. Then you would be able to use the comprehensive discovery process. Discovery gets you all your evidence: documents, depositions, microfilm, VHS video tapes and any other type of photographic or digital information that exists or ever will exist.
File a civil complaint and use the discovery process.
File a civil summons and complaint naming your next door neighbor and his wife as defendants. Then you simply send your defendant a request for production of documents and tangible things (RFP). Your RFP Number One would be: Please produce copies of all video surveillance taken by your camera on December 26, 2020 between the hours of 5:00 p.m. and 8:00 p.m.
Send the camera owner a letter telling him not to delete any of his video because you are going to sue him
If your defendant happens to be a Continuing Care Retirement Community then your lawsuit comes under federal jurisdiction because nursing homes are governed by the federal government. Federal discovery forbids the destruction or deletion of evidence that may be the subject of future litigation. This is good news because you can send the owner of the cameras a letter telling him not to delete or destroy any images. If you have already sent a polite letter asking for a voluntary relinquishment of copies which has been refused, technically you don’t have to do anything else. If your CCRC knows you want the video, they cannot destroy it because they know that they are a federal jurisdiction. If your defendant does delete video that you have requested, the courts will make them pay dearly and here is the law that backs that up:
“Litigants owe an “uncompromising duty to preserve” what they know or reasonably should know will be relevant evidence in a pending lawsuit, or one in the offing, even though no discovery request or order to preserve the evidence has yet been made. Schwarzer, Tashima & Wagstaffe, Rutter Group Prac. Guide: Federal Civ. Pro. Before Trial, (The Rutter Group – June 2016 Update) Ch. 11(I)-C, ¶ 11:125. (Emphasis original.) This obligation to preserve evidence arises when the party has notice that the evidence is relevant to litigation—most commonly when suit has already been filed, providing the party responsible for the destruction with express notice, but also on occasion in other circumstances, as for example when a party should have known that the evidence may be relevant to future litigation. Kronisch v. U.S., 150 F.3d 112, 126 (2nd Cir. 1998.) As soon as a potential claim is identified, a party is under a duty to preserve evidence which it knows or reasonably should know is relevant to the action. In re Napster, Inc. Copyright Litigation, 462 F.Supp.2d 1060, 1067 (N.D. Cal. 2006.) The duty is triggered, at the latest, when the defendant is served with the complaint. In re Ethicon, Inc. Pelvic Repair Systems Product Liability Litig., 299 FRD 502, 512 (SD WV 2014.) Before litigation begins, most courts agree that the “receipt of a demand letter, a request for evidence preservation, a threat of litigation, or a decision to pursue a claim will all trigger the duty to preserve evidence.” Id.”