Appeals court upholds ruling citing Guzzo for overzealous search
The Quebec Court of Appeals upheld a prior decision Wednesday in favour of a Montreal mother and her two daughters who had their purses searched before attending a movie at the Cinema Guzzo theatre at Marche Centrale.
Julie Berthiaume was going to see Shrek the Third at the theatre in 2007 with her two daughters when a security guard insisted on searching their purses, pulling out personal items in front of everyone in line.
Berthiaume felt her rights and those of her daughters had been violated, and she was also embarrassed by the incident, so she sued for $10,000 and won in May of 2009.
Cinema Guzzo appealed the decision, and that appeal was rejected Wednesday. With interest, the payout has now climbed to $14,000.
"The search was done in abusive manner," said Berthiaume's lawyer Maxime Wilkins. "My client was faced with a fait accompli, she wasn't warned she would be searched and they never got her consent."
The reason Cinema Guzzo was so vigilant was in an effort to counter movie piracy. The chain was once considered the leading target of movie piracy on the continent. The first person arrested under Canada's stricter piracy laws was arrested at a Guzzo theatre.
However, the court ruled that the search went over the line.
Vince Guzzo can now admit that the policy at his theatres had his flaws.
"They should have asked the kids to look through the bag, they should have looked through the bag, they shouldn't have emptied the bag on the table, but they were allowed to look in," Guzzo said. "So the policy of bag searches in the decision is ok, it's how we do it."
Guzzo says his company has cancelled searches in all his theatres, even if they remain a target for piracy.