Someone planted three surveillance cameras in an apartment Canadian businessman Gordon Flatt uses in New York City, and he has filed a lawsuit to find out who.
The apartment is owned by his brother, Bruce Flatt, who is chief executive of Brookfield Asset Management Inc., but Gordon Flatt, head of the private investment firm Copacabana Capital Ltd., uses it on occasion.
A Brookfield spokesperson said that while Bruce Flatt has owned the unit for many years, it is not his residence, and he has another apartment for his own use when in New York.
Gordon Flatt filed the lawsuit against “John Doe” on Jan. 4 in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, saying he and a companion stayed at the apartment starting on Oct. 11 last year. On the afternoon of Oct. 19, the pair discovered three audio and video cameras hidden in the apartment.
The lawsuit said Mr. Flatt does not know when the cameras were placed in the apartment. It said Bruce Flatt also had no idea surveillance equipment was there.
The cameras were part of a Nest brand surveillance system, which allows a person who holds an account with the company to collect audio and video information and view it up to 30 days later, the lawsuit says. The technology can distinguish human speech, images, motion and sounds, and send alerts to the account holder.
The first camera the pair spotted was on a high ledge above eye-level in the apartment’s kitchen. After noticing it, they searched the apartment and found a second camera on the floor in the living room under a storage cabinet, then a third camera on the bedroom floor behind the headboard, the suit said.
“The cameras recorded audio and video continuously in the bedroom, kitchen and living room, capturing moments that Mr. Flatt believed private,” the lawsuit said.
Mr. Flatt is also seeking court approval to subpoena Nest for information about the account holder, including the e-mail address associated with the account, arguing that the way the equipment was used violates the Federal Wiretap Act.
Mr. Flatt also wants approval to issue subpoenas against internet service providers if the Nest account holder provided fake information and he has to trace the identity of an e-mail account holder.
The lawsuit said Mr. Flatt’s attorney contacted Nest, which confirmed that one camera in the apartment had been activated on a one-month subscription, but would not confirm whether the other two were activated.
Nest also said it would not reveal account-holder information without a valid legal process, such as a subpoena, the lawsuit said.
Mr. Flatt’s lawyer, Justin Shur, did not respond on Thursday to requests for comment. Nest did not reply to a request for comment.