Taking a Gamble With a Surveillance Installation

Integrators, beware: Doing a shoddy job could end up costing you more than just your sterling reputation. A casino in Erie, Pa., is actually suing its integrator (and the construction company) for breach of contract because it installed an inadequate system.

According to the Erie Times-News, Presque Isle Downs and Casino stipulated that the construction company would install that the construction company would install a security system – with cameras, a VMS and storage – robust enough to meet the demanding security needs of a casino.

The construction company subcontracted with Dwayne Cooper Enterprises, the lowest bidder. The state gaming authority rejected the integrator’s first system design, which would have used an analog system tied into a West Virginia casino's system,  and required that the integrator use a standalone digital system.

According to the court complaint, the construction company accepted the integrator’s second bid, which proposed 524 fixed IP cameras, 53 camera power supplies, and 10 PTZ cameras. The cameras were to record video at 30 fps that would be stored on 14 300GB hard drives for 30 days. The casino stipulated that any digital video array must be suitable “for the security industry’s most demanding digital video storage” and must come from a company with at least five years of experience in the industry. It also stipulated that, as with any casino security system, the cameras, servers and monitors were to provide complete surveillance of all gaming and point of sale areas.

What Presque Isle Downs actually received from the integrator, however, was a different story:

The casino alleges that Dwayne Cooper failed to install more than half the cameras and shorted them by 37 power supplies; the cameras’ frame rate was less than 30 fps; and the casino couldn’t view live video – a must for any casino installation. In addition, the video storage hard drives were consumer-grade, rated to be on for only eight hours a day; 24-hour use is standard for casinos. Indeed, after a few days of use, they simply crashed from overuse.  The digital recording company that Dwayne Cooper retained, OmniMedia Network, had less than one year of experience in the security surveillance industry, had never designed this type of security system, and its customer support system consisted of one person in Washington state.

So you can see that this may in fact be a little more than your average picky customer dissatisfied with an installation.

Here’s where it gets murky, though: Presque Isle Downs alleges that Dwayne Cooper also charged it twice for several items. The casino allegedly paid these double charges because the construction company recommended payment. And now the casino wants to sue this construction company for recommending these redundant payments.

This may be the weakest spot in the casino’s argument: It is holding the construction company responsible because, since it didn’t know anything about installing a security system, it relied on the construction company’s knowledge and recommendations. But there are some things – not receiving delivery of your equipment, paying twice for one item – that Presque Isle Downs probably knew were bad business practices even without knowing anything about the security industry. Should the construction company be held accountable for that? I’m not so sure. What do you think?

Posted by Laura Williams on Mar 02, 2011

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