The National Burglar and Fire Alarm Association (NBFAA), Irving, Texas, with its New Jersey chapter and the Central Station Alarm Association (CSAA), Vienna, Va., is launching a grass roots campaign to alert the industry and solicit financial support for a legal filing, known as an amicus brief, in a case that is now pending with the New Jersey Appellate Division.

In a recent Camden County, N. J., trial, the court ruled against the security industry on a subrogation claim in favor of awarding the plaintiff $4.5 million in connection with a burglary of computer equipment from a warehouse. The court held that exculpatory clauses in alarm contracts, including limitation of liability and indemnification clauses, are unenforceable under New Jersey law.

If this judgment is upheld by the Appellate Division in New Jersey, it will have serious implications for the industry, the NBFAA maintained. Among other things, alarm companies could face greater liability exposure and significantly increased insurance rates.

“The final outcome of this case has far-reaching and serious implications that will transcend the boundaries of the New Jersey state lines and affect the entire industry,” asserted George Gunning, the NBFAA’s president. “It has the potential to set a precedent that may be used in lawsuits in other states. So we urge all industry professionals to do what they can to support this move to protect the industry.”

An amicus brief is a document that is filed by a “friend of the court” or a party that has some interest in the outcome of a case. Amicus briefs are often filed on important issues facing appellate courts and can be very expensive to produce.

Last Nov. 14, the NBFAA filed a motion with the New Jersey Superior Court asking that it be permitted to file the friend of the court brief. Shortly after, the plaintiff filed an objection to the NBFAA’s request to file a friend of the court brief. Among its objections was a claim that the NBFAA was a national organization and therefore was not really affected by what happened in New Jersey.

In December 2006, the NBFAA filed a motion on behalf of the New Jersey Burglar and Fire Alarm Association asking that it be allowed to join in the NBFAA’s request and highlighting that both the alarm industry and the public in New Jersey (as well as elsewhere) would be adversely affected if the appeals court were to affirm the ruling of the lower court on this issue.

The NBFAA currently is seeking funds to help defray the legal expenses associated with the preparation of the friend of the court brief, which can be involved, complicated and expensive. A legal defense fund has been formed for financial contributions from the industry to finance this initiative. A contribution form can be downloaded by visiting www.alarm.org.