Tourist sues Starbucks over 'hidden camera'

Agence France-Presse

Posted at Sep 21 2011 10:55 AM | Updated as of Sep 21 2011 06:55 PM

WASHINGTON - Starbucks is being sued for $3 million by a tourist from Virginia who says his five-year-old daughter found a video camera hidden in the washroom of one of its Washington outlets.

William Yockey, 28, accuses the Seattle-based global coffee chain of invasion of privacy, negligence, "intentional infliction of emotional distress" and negligent hiring, training and supervision of staff.

Yockey, who brought his family to the US capital in April, "immediately reported this humiliating and disgusting matter" to the manager of the outlet, a few blocks from the White House, said a copy of his lawsuit seen Tuesday.

Police roped off the washroom and dusted the camera -- tucked inside the U-shaped drain beneath the wash basin, according to the plaintiff -- for fingerprints before confiscating it as evidence, the lawsuit said.

"It's embarrassing, humiliating, even today," Yockey told ABC News, adding that any video of his daughter in the washroom "could have been all over the Internet. She could have been violated."

Yockey's lawyer Hank Schlosberg is asking District of Columbia superior court for a jury trial, $1 million in compensatory damages and $2 million in punitive damages just on the invasion of privacy count.

Spokesmen for Starbucks could not be reached for comment, but City Paper, a local weekly, said the company had tried but failed to get the lawsuit thrown out on grounds that Yockey had not proven any wrongdoing by its employees.

Last May, police arrested a man on suspicion of recording at least 40 women with a hidden camera in a Starbucks in California, while another man was arrested in June for placing a camera inside another Starbucks in Florida.