Starbucks sued over Washington restroom camera

WASHINGTON Tue Sep 20, 2011 4:59pm EDT

A walk sign flashes in Times Square in front of a store bearing the new Starbucks logo in New York March 8, 2011. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson

A walk sign flashes in Times Square in front of a store bearing the new Starbucks logo in New York March 8, 2011.

Credit: Reuters/Lucas Jackson

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WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A Virginia man is suing Starbucks Coffee Co after his 5-year-old daughter allegedly found a video camera in a Washington cafe bathroom pointed at the toilet.

William Yockey, of Norfolk, is asking for $1 million in the civil suit on four counts, including breach of privacy, his lawyer, Hank Schlosberg, told Reuters on Tuesday.

Yockey and his daughter went into a Starbucks in downtown Washington to use the restroom during an April sightseeing trip, he said.

After using the unisex toilet, the girl discovered a digital video camera hidden in the U-shaped drain pipe under the sink. The camera was aimed at the toilet and recording, Schlosberg said.

"The little girl was very upset and the father was irate," he said.

Yockey contacted the manager, who called police.

The incident is at least the third involving a camera in a Starbucks bathroom this year.

A man was arrested in May for placing a camera in a California Starbucks and recording at least 40 women. A man was arrested in June for putting a camera in a Florida Starbucks.

Starbucks spokesman Alan Hilowitz said: "We take our obligation to provide a safe environment for our customers and our employees very, very seriously."

Such incidents as the alleged camera placement were "extremely, extremely rare" given that the company has 17,000 stores in the United States, he said.

(Reporting by Ian Simpson; Editing by Greg McCune)

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